Archive for April, 2011

Can’t Miss Film Festival Comes To Town

By xpressmagazine

Around one hundred journalists gather at the prestigious Alexandra room on the 32nd floor of the Westin Hotel. Men and women dressed in business attire talk excitedly as they pour coffee before settling into a chair for the press conference. The energy in the air might make one think this crowded event is the Oscar awards unraveling. It is not. All the commotion is for a much-anticipated event, the 54th International Film Festival that ran from April 21 through May 5.

This distinguished festival took place at theatres throughout San Francisco including The Castro Theatre and Kabuki Sundance Cinemas. Nearly 200 films produced from more than forty countries were shown at theatres across San Francisco. The films were grouped into categories that included a documentary section showcasing first-and-second time directors; world cinema that focused on international directors; documentaries that delivered nonfiction pieces on people, places, issues and ideas; the late show that featured thrilling films; and the shorts program that presented multiple genres.

Opening night, Thursday April 21st, showcased a phenomenal film, Beginners shown at the Castro Theatre. Beginners stars Ewan McGregor, a graphic artist that finds himself in a new relationship. His 75-year-old father, who has recently come out of the closet and is battling cancer, imparts life lessons down to his unlucky in love son that will not be forgotten.

Another awesome event the Film Festival offered this year is the salons, where viewers can meet with directors and scholars to discuss the films in an intimate environment where more in-depth conversations can be held. Sunday May 1 offered a salon to discuss “Expressions of French Cinema” hosted by author and former Yale professor Susan Weiner. This salon discussed Children of the Princess Cleves, a documentary on a high school class in Marseille studying classic literature, I’m Glad My Mother Is Alive, the story of Nathan, who has led a troubled life and as an adult seeks out his birth mother, and The Place In Between, a story of a young biracial French woman traveling to Burkina Faso to find her birth mother.

In addition to salons, master classes were offered where guests engaged with festival insiders and conversed on detailed cinema discourse that went steps further than they typical question and answer session. A great salon for film aficionados and emerging writers took place on Friday, April 29. This salon, “Frank Pierson: A Writer’s Life” was hosted at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, and discussed the craft of screenwriting. Pierson, a legendary screenwriter, was presented this year’s Kanabar Award for excellence in screenwriting.

To get in on the action, check out sf360.org. This online site funded by the San Francisco Film Society contains numerous feature stories, a filmmaking manual, and deadlines. It not only serves as an online magazine for filmmakers and fans, but it is also a great resource to find festival showings and events.

Dealing With Distracting Classmates

By xpressmagazine

Sarah Abott sprints up the stairs, coffee in hand, rushing to make class on time. The tall brunette slithers into her desk with minutes to spare. “Ahh,” she lets out a deep sigh of relief. She takes out her notebook and pen, ready to cling to every word that comes out of her professor’s mouth for the next fifty minutes of uninterrupted learning bliss. Or so she thinks.
Immersed in the lecture, Abbott hears strange noises and turns around to see where the unwelcome sounds are coming from. The twenty-two-year-old cannot believe her eyes. A fellow classmate is shaking both legs and tapping her fingers in a futile attempt to stay awake, causing Abbott’s entire row to convulse so much that she can no longer pay attention to anything but her disruptive classmate.
For some students, it takes a lot of concentration and willpower just to focus on a long and arduous lecture in the first place. Add distracting classmates into the mix, and paying attention becomes much harder. According to Fuzzy Brain? Improve Your Attention Span published on cnn.com, “Concentration occurs when the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, which controls high-level cognitive tasks, is awash with the right cocktail of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other body chemicals, particularly the pleasure chemical dopamine.”
The article goes on to explain that when you lose attention, your dopamine levels drop, prompting you to find a distraction, which is not too hard in most classrooms. Many students these days casually text in class, watch videos online, and talk amongst each other, as well as other inappropriate and distracting behaviors. These actions not only affect the students doing them, but also their classmates around them.
Many SF State students like Abbott have had enough. “It was the most distracting anyone has ever been in class,” says Abbott. “I looked at her in a mean way a couple of times and she didn’t get it. She started falling asleep and nodding off and coming back, then falling asleep again. I had to tell her to stop, and it came out really mean. I felt really bad.”
Sociology major Hunter Ridenour says he has seen an increase in students bringing their laptops to class and watching videos on YouTube or playing games on their iPhones such as “Angry Birds.” “I don’t even understand why students come to class if they are just going to watch videos on their laptops,” he laments. “But I know they usually come because of mandatory attendance.”
The twenty-two-year-old says he gets extremely distracted by this because he always wants to take a peek at what his classmates are watching, and this takes him away from the lecture at hand. According to Ridenour, his professor, Dr. Carrington banned laptops from class for this reason.
“I was so happy when Dr. Carrington told the class that laptops weren’t allowed,” says Ridenour. “I think that was really a great idea, and it really helped me pay attention in the class.”
According to Dr. Carrington, there is no place for laptops or iPhones in his classroom or any classroom for that matter. What students don’t realize is that their iPhone or laptop use does not only distract them, but it also distracts professors as well. Dr. Carrington says that when he sees a student on his phone it takes him away from the course material, and this happens with other professors as well.
“In my experience,” Carrington continues, “professors who care deeply about student comprehension, and who also care about creating equitable learning environments, they think very carefully about the use of laptops and iPhones in classrooms and have clear policies about their use. Of course, there are learning tasks, course subjects, and entire courses where these devices are perfectly suited, but I suspect these are the exception, not the norm.”
Dr. Carrington’s policy may seem harsh, but he knows what really happens when a student pulls out their flashy new phone. “Because humans are phototropic, laptops and iPhones draw the eyes, energy, and attention of anyone near a light source,” he explains.  “If someone next to you opens a laptop, the image draws your attention, and draws one away from the lecture, film, discussion, et cetera.”
It isn’t always technology that is to blame. Junior Karanbir ‘Kiki’ Deol says he gets distracted the most by students giggling and chit-chatting in class. Although he claims this does not make him angry, he says it is frustrating when he is interrupted during a really important lecture where he cannot miss any information. Even more, he feels telling the mouthy students to be quiet will do more harm than good. “It wastes more time to tell them to shut up. I’ve seen other students tell students to be quiet and they will say, ‘Oh, sorry,’ but they’ll just keep talking anyway.”
Unfortunately, some students may never learn. Even with a ban on technology in the classroom, bored students will revert to what they did in their elementary school days. After all, students will always have the ability and urge to talk, gossip, and laugh during long classes. Even though it is impossible to control others, there is hope for students sick and tired of being distracted in class.
According to Fuzzy Brain? Improve Your Attention Span, “All of us can feel distracted when we’re at the mercy of internal factors, like fatigue, stress, and anger.” A way to ensure you will be at your best in class to fight off distracting classmates is to get enough rest the night before so your sleep deprivation doesn’t thwart your attention span. Bringing a healthy snack to class will also help you focus, as it will maintain balanced blood-sugar levels.
There is always an upside to distracting classmates though—funny stories to tell your roommates or co-workers. “How distracted I get depends on the conversation behind me. If it is kind of scandalous,” laughs Deol. “I’ll be like, oh this is interesting, I’m going to listen to this.”

Giant Increases In Revenue

By xpressmagazine

Mayhem, traffic jams, shoving crowds, stinking sweaty pits, and overdoses of adrenaline mixed with alcohol polluted the air on November 1, 2010. Floods of men, women, and children decked out in orange and black ravished the city streets screaming, crying, and hugging. Frightened tourists visiting San Francisco were stunned. Had a terrorist attack occurred? In their panic, they struggled to make sense of so many grandiose displays of emotion. The reason behind the craziness was soon unveiled—the San Francisco Giants had won the World Series championship. History was made on that balmy November night in the city by the bay.

Forever 2010 will be the year of the Giants. Their dynamite season last year brought old and new fans alike together to cheer and celebrate after numerous wins and the big championship game that turned the city of San Francisco into one big party, and soon it seemed that every San Francisco resident was a supporter of the “fear the beard” cause. Long-time Giants supporters from SF State are ready to get the ball rolling on the 2011 season, but, the surge in “bandwagon fans”, and inflating ticket prices, is causing many to strike out.

Twenty-three-year-old Brandon Uchi quietly eats lunch alone in Cesar Chavez student center. The broadcasting major, tired from a full day of classes, immediately perks up to discuss his favorite team. Uchi’s brown eyes sparkle as he explains that he has been a Giants enthusiast since he was born and that he will be one until he dies, adding with vengeance his distaste for the Bay Area team’s rival the Los Angeles Dodgers. His pride runs so deep for his favorite team that he even refuses to wear the color blue. However, as much as Uchi loves his favorite team, its success has brought along wishy-washy fans he could live without.

“I fucking hate the bandwagon fans so much,” Uchi says. “I guess it’s cool that there are so many Giants fans now, but it kind of annoys me that I’ve been there from the start and a lot of people have. Then people come and crash the party. They will come back once the hype starts again.”

Wearing an orange Giants jersey, Mary Kate Nicholson dashes off to catch MUNI, bursting with excitement to watch the Giants take on the Dodgers. Nicholson says she has been a follower of the team since she was about ten-years-old when she started watching baseball with her father. Nicholson’s father, born and raised in Daly City, passed down his love for the team to her. Even though she was raised in Southern California and her mother tried to make her a Dodgers devotee, she has remained fiercely loyal to the team.

Unlike Uchi, Nicholson does not see the “bandwagon fans” as a threat, but hopes that they will continue to support the team this season. “Everybody has bandwagon fans,” says Nicholson. “You just got to live with them. Some of my friends that were on the bandwagon actually started watching baseball with me.”

Twenty-one-year-old Nicole Hayden, a liberal studies major, couldn’t agree more with Nicholson. “Bandwagon fans don’t bother me, because it really happens with everything,” she says, adding, “it is okay that a lot of my friends jumped on the bandwagon, because it gives me more friends to go to the games with. They will be just as excited this season, but they just won’t know as much as me.”

The enthusiastic senior has been a Giants lover for fifteen years now, and says she has become more dedicated within the last few years. Hayden cites meeting Brian Wilson last month at Fan Fest as one of the highlights of her year so far. “I’m really excited to see Brian Wilson play this year. He even hugged me. It was just so cool,” Hayden says smiling as she recalls the meeting.

Every SF State Giants addict wants to make it to as many games this season as possible. However, there is a growing concern among students about how many games they will actually be able to attend since ticket prices have skyrocketed. According to Giants President Larry Baer, the average price of a ticket is up 6.5 percent from last year. The starting price for a ticket against the rival Dodgers is twenty dollars. Add ridiculous parking prices, public transportation fees, five dollar sodas and hot dogs, ten dollar beers, and a day at the ballpark comes with a large price tag.

Lucky for Uchi, he already has tickets for six games this season thanks to his mother who works for AT&T Park. If Uchi had it his way, he would be at every single game this season. He says he was really upset that he could not attend Opening Day as he had planned. Uchi and some friends had planned to buy standing-room-level tickets that usually go for about fifteen dollars, but already a single standing-room ticket for opening day costs a whopping one hundred dollars and Uchi says there is no way he could afford or would pay that crazy price.

“If tickets are going to be that expensive all year, then I really don’t know how many games I’ll be able to make,” he laments. “I plan on going to as many games as I can afford.”

Julian Koehne was born-and-bred a Giants fan. The soft-spoken art major recalls fond memories of visiting AT&T Park as a child for numerous outings with his family. However, much to Koehne’s despair, he was not able to attend any games last season. He still supported his team by watching every game either at bars or at home. “I just didn’t have the money for it last year, and I won’t this year either,” he explains.

Unfortunately for Hayden, she finds herself in the same predicament as Koehne. “I plan on going to a lot of games this season, but tickets are a lot more expensive and I probably won’t make as many games as I did last season.”

Despite inflated ticket prices and unwelcome fans, students couldn’t be more excited that baseball is back. This season there are different faces joining the roster including Brandon Belt, who came up from the minor leagues and Miguel Tejada, who was signed as a free agent. Fan favorite and utility player, Juan Uribe, ironically signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers upsetting many fans. However, the solid pitching staff that propelled the team to the championship level remains the same. Many predict the Giants will make the playoffs again this year with the same stellar pitching they had last year and the exciting new additions.

According to Koehne, releasing Uribe was not only a bad move for the team, but also upsetting for fans that watched him help the Giants win the championship. “It is kind of sad, because you know, he helped them win, and then goes to their most notorious rival,” says Koehne. Despite his objection to the release of Uribe, Koehne believes the Giants still have that special spark inside themselves to lead a very successful season.

“Brandon Belt is very good,” he continues. “He is a little happy on the bat, and needs to control his swinging, but he is definitely up-and-coming. They are just warming up, but as far as it goes, I think we are going to do very well this season.” Unfortunately after seventeen games, Belt was released back to the minor leagues.

According to Kevin Paul, contributing writer for Fox Sports and creator of sports website, The Wife Hates Sports, the Giants have a lot to look forward to in 2011. Paul predicts the Giants will win their division. “The NL West should once again be a tight race that goes down to the wire,” Paul predicts, “but with the pitching staff that the Giants currently have, it’s hard to pick against them.”

Contributing Major League Baseball editor Shawn Clark also forecasts a successful season. San Francisco’s heroes, “went nearly injury free,” Clark emphasizes, “with a rotation that once again makes the Giants the favorites to not only win the division, but another pennant in 2011.” He believes that the Giants have proven many wrong by their solid performances. However, he adds, “it’s up to the Giants not to suffer through a World Series hangover this season like so many other titlists have endured in this great game of baseball.”

Uchi believes this year is no doubt going to be tough, but just like last year, definitely worth it in the end. “I think we are going to make the playoffs,” he states. “Last season was complete torture. We were grinning and grinding for every single run. It is not going to be easy, and we don’t really have any all-star players besides our pitchers. I think it is going to be tough, the same way it was last year.”

Still other SF State fans are unsure what 2011 will have in store for the black-and-orange. “Right now it is hard to tell what will happen,” says Nicholson. “Everyone seems pretty good, but you know anything could happen. It is baseball; it’s timeless. You never know until the end of the ninth inning. Right now they are being a little cocky and not doing as well as I know they could do. There are new players, though, and once they get into the swing of everything, you never know, everything changes after the first month.”

Renowned San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Bruce Adams believes the spellbinding performance the Giants displayed last season will be nearly impossible to repeat. “Nothing will replace the magic of last season,” he declares. “It was a once in a lifetime experience for baseball fans; everything came together. It was a perfect.”

No matter what happens this season for San Francisco’s favorite team, SF State students are going to be there supporting the orange-and-black every game, regardless of whether or not they make it to AT&T Park. The Giants have come a long way since their move to California, and 2010 marked the first year they ever won a World Series in San Francisco, not to mention at AT&T Park.

“Them winning the World Series was like Christmas times a thousand,” says Uchi. “I went out every single fucking game, the whole playoffs. Not to mention, I did horrible in school, my grades completely dropped, but it was so worth it,” he laughs.

2010 will forever be the year of the Giants for San Francisco, and sorry Dodger fans, it’s looking like 2011 just might be, too.

Summer at the de Young

By xpressmagazine

Discover the vibrant colors, styles and drama of Spain without leaving the city. Escape in the elegance of a blood red coat, pink silk on black lace and the emotion evoked by a black matador bolero jacket, embroidered in gold and red stitching.

This summer consider spending one of the first Tuesdays of the month inside the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The de Young is unique in that it offers more than flat paintings hanging on a wall or statues frozen in orderly spaces. It offers color, imagination, and innovation.

Every year the museum displays influential pieces by renowned fashion designers, such as Yves Saint Laurent, and Vivian Westwood. This summer they are showing influential designs by Balenciaga and Spain. The show runs until July 4.

The designers showcased are chosen not for fame but for their creative ability to challenge and change culture and ideas.

Cristobal Balenciaga became a world famous Spanish fashion designer in the 1950s. By using sensually bold color pallets of black, red and pink with lace, Balenciaga transformed classic shape patterns. Designing clothes that moved away from proper waistlines and proportions, he created new women silhouettes.

“The exhibit showed me how versatile and inventive Balenciaga was as a designer,” says Erica Chang, 24, a graduate student at SF State. “His Spanish influence is apparent in the majority of his designs, which consisted of simple lines that tastefully flatter the female form.”

Students of all studies will get something out of the experience, whether it is inspiration or entertainment.

“It has a lot to offer in terms of thinking about fashion, perspective, style, and colors. It also reminds us to be inventive and trust our instincts, which we can easily forget.” Chang says. “There was this dress that was spectacular. It was a red, strapless, short, silk cocktail dress. It had presence, or, gave the impression that whoever wore it would radiate a presence-like she existed.”

De Young holds an event every Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., and for six dollars you can drink free wine and explore certain exhibits at no extra fee. Olmec, the master artworks of ancient Mexico, is the signature show for their Friday night event and will continue till May 8. In June they launch their Picasso exhibition.

On a budget? Visit the de Young on the first Tuesday of any month for free admission. Students with a valid ID get a discount during regular visiting hours, which are Tuesday through Sunday.

San Francisco Green Festival

By xpressmagazine

At first glance, the San Francisco Green Festival appears to be more of a circus than a community gathering. One passerby loudly exclaims that it looks like a street bazaar. Underneath the veil of scattered cubicles, noisy crowds and vendor sales, there is an underlying message of community, diversity and new ideas. For two days the marketplace and consumers converge, exploring and challenging the current ideologies of consumption and consumerism, enlightening and altering their way of thinking that could change the way we bathe, eat, get news, dress, and interact.

“The festival made me more aware of how much I waste and inspired me to reduce that, I also use cloth bags much more frequently, and I found a way to recycle my ink cartridges from my computer,” says SF State student Marissa Brun, 25. “It inspired me to waste less in terms of bagging and packaging and turned me on to natural alternatives to processed foods.”

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Everything about the event inspires a change in thought, even the way you purchase admission. They provide discounts to students and free admission for those who engage in sustainable practices. For instance, volunteering at the event, donating unused canned goods, using public transportation, riding a bike, supporting local grocery or even checking out the latest in automobile technology can get you a discount or free admission.

[pullquote author="Marissa Brun"]“Students should attend the green festival to learn that there are other ways of doing everyday things that can reduce waste and actually help the environment, rather than hurt it.”[/pullquote]

Entering the food tent, you become consumed by the smell of sizzling vegan sausages, toasted Panini filled with mushrooms, avocado and spinach, spicy Indian curries with sticky coconut rice, and the steamy smell of folded savory crepes. Offering vegan and sometimes raw cuisine, food vendors are smiling and always busy with hungry bellies to feed. This year they featured local, organic and vegan wines and beer which were sampled inside the tasting tent.

In cubicles scattered throughout the convention center vendors offer their products and services with warm smiles, eager to converse. Surprisingly profit is not the priority, at least for those two days, the gathering is about education. Displayed are products most consumers never consider that can benefit society and commerce. The underlying message of the event is reduce, reuse and recycle, eliminating waste.

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America is a society of over-consumption, the consequences of which are pollution, toxic waste and garbage. No one can undo the damage of our consumer lifestyles but we can transform our current way of living to be more sustainable, aware and connected to community and the earth, hopefully preventing future damage to ourselves. The earth and humans are linked. The whole idea of throwing away waste is an illusion, because it never leaves, it stays on the earth just as we do, “a closed system”.

For ten years Green America and Global Exchange have brought the Green Festival to cities across the nation. Their goal is to initiate dialogue, inspire change among businesses, and educate residential communities about sustainability and environmental impact. Green America connects the market with consumers to create a socially responsible economy. On their website they provide a list of environmentally conscious businesses. Global Exchange is a human-interest organization that promotes an international economy where workers, consumers and the environment are considered before profit. They help people all over the world with green business ideas start up their trade. The festival extensively screens every vendor, business, and presenter to demonstrate that they make a significant commitment to community and the environment.

Looking beyond profit, most vendors sell items that are beneficial to the consumer and the environment. Mr. Ellie Pooh, one of the vendors, is a company that sells paper made from elephant poo. The paper is sterilized, odorless, durable, organic and sustainable. According to mrelliepooh.com, elephants in Sri Lanka (a country off the southern coast of India) are killed at alarming rates to make room for human needs, like agriculture. Mr. Ellie Pooh opened their factories in rural areas, where they train and hire locals, which supports the community economy and inspires the natives to value the elephants. Using poo paper may sound extreme, but moving away from paper products, which require the loss of trees and accumulation of garbage, is a sustainable alternative.

green01019Konjacu, a Japanese vendor that sells skincare products, brings a way to bathe without the use of soaps. Their veggie sponges are an interesting alternative to the polluting toxic chemicals that are in most skincare products. According to konjacu.com, their sponges clean better and safer than most store bought brands and are completely biodegradable, and can even be used on children.

“I liked the way the vendors showed alternatives to products that are not good for the environment or for our bodies, such as coconut sugar as an alternative to cane sugar and hemp as an alternative to cotton,” says Pacifica resident Jason Crist, 24. “I appreciated the information that was available for each cause and item. It was fun to be around so many earth friendly people who shared the same mindset.”

[pullquote author="Huia Richard Hutton, geography and human environmental studies professor at SF State"]“Seeing ordinary people with their big ideas and creative forces put into practice is beautiful.”[/pullquote]

Lecturers from the SF community and the nation spoke throughout the day. The speakers are deeply involved in sustainable business, community and politics. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi spoke in the Community Action Pavilion about plans for a greener and more sustainable community. Mirkarimi was the first to propose and successfully ban plastic bag use in businesses, setting a standard for communities in the Bay Area.

SF State Geography and Human Environmental Studies Professor, Huia Richard Hutton, found the Community Action Pavilion inspiring. Hutton thought seeing people’s ideas and creativity put into action through grassroots social movements was exhilarating. “Seeing ordinary people with their big ideas and creative forces put into practice is beautiful.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, author of “The Vegan Table” stood in a booth surrounded by fans and vegan newbies. Deemed “the vegan Martha Stewart,” Goudreau welcomed guests with warm smiles and enthusiastic encouragement. When a girl commented that she was new to veganism, Goudreau praised her exploration and gave her some pointers.

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With any gathering of idealists, the festival attracts some egotistical personalities pushing their agendas. Some attendees thought the event reminded them of a mini-mall and that the vendors were a bit pushy. Crist says, “Some vendors seemed slightly arrogant in their way of living and imposed a lot of guilt on consumers. Maybe there could be more activities to create a more hands-on experience and less of a pressure to buy products.”

Despite some negative sentiments, the festival provides an outlet for the community and a place of expression for students. “Seeing all the youth volunteers at the festival shines a positive light on the community,” Hutton says.

Hutton teaches the class, Environmental Problems and Solutions, at SF State, a course that challenges students to make connections within themselves and their environment by thinking holistically. We are so easily distracted by static created by technology, consumption, and image we forget about the larger more significant issues in our lives. It is a course that can change the way you think, consume and act.

One of the most important things a student can do to become more connected is to make time for mental space. “Mental space provides a chance to have deeper conversations with yourself, to hear yourself think and to be observant,” Hutton says.

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The festival is, in a way, a gathering of individuals who have had that deeper conversation within, and are able to share some of that knowledge with the community.

“Students should attend the green festival to learn that there are other ways of doing everyday things that can reduce waste and actually help the environment, rather than hurt it,” Brun says. “I think students are unaware of the harm they cause most of the time and don’t know where to find information to understand the importance of our consumption patterns. Students are already in the mindset of learning and therefore are more likely to absorb the information and share it with their friends.”

Bob Weir and Phil Lesh go Furthur

By xpressmagazine

A line of cars extends out to the highway as passengers patiently wait to swap their ticket stubs for the durable, multi-colored wrist band. Already there is a buzz in the air about how if you snip off the excess length of a few wrist bands, you can weave them together and falsify one.

Vehicles of all sorts file into the massive, open lawn area. Little Honda Civics, old VW vans and bugs, giant Econoline vans spewing exhaust, a brightly colored mini-bus, new pick-up trucks, the works-they all stack in one after the other. The people park with a car length or so in between each vessel, leaving room for a tent and a shade structure. Thunder clouds loom in the distance, offering the threat of rain, but no one seems to mind. The sun is out and excited faces begin to survey their surroundings. Strangers introduce themselves, they will be neighbors for the next three nights and there is nothing better than a good neighbor.

Beers are cracked open and tent poles begin to fly about, as camps are assembled. Music drifts through the spring air and in the blink of an eye the parking lot/campground is becoming a party. Girls run by skipping in tie-die dresses, little kids chase each other around barefooted, dogs are barking, a rooster is crowing, transient kids make their way up and down the aisles of cars selling mushrooms, acid, pot-brownies and other assorted narcotics; and respectable old-timers recline in their lawn chairs to watch the magic that is happening all around them. Camp sites turn into makeshift vendor booths; selling tie-die clothing, smoking accessories, food and a variety of other handmade crafts and goodies.

All these people; young, old, knowledgeable and naïve; they are all here to see three nights of music at the first ever Furthur Festival. Furthur is the current formation of the classic San Francisco band, The Grateful Dead. From May 28 through May 30, 2010, the iconic band took over Angel’s Camp in Calaveras County just a few hours east of the Bay Area to perform three nights of music.

Each night promised to be two full sets of assorted tunes and then a third set where they would be playing one of three classic albums: Working Man’s Dead, American Beauty and Terrapin Station.

The festival was a success. All three nights delivered incredible renditions of every song they played, many of which had not been played in a very long time. For old and new fans alike the three nights was just about as good as it can get when it comes to hearing Grateful Dead music.

Furthur Terrapin Suite by Richard Karevoll

Not many bands have the musical stamina or integrity to do three nights of five hour concerts, a quality that has set them apart from so many other bands through out their existence.

Furthur is only two original members of The Grateful Dead. On guitar and vocals there is Bob Weir accompanied by his long time musical companion Phil Lesh on bass and vocals. The two original members have toured for years since the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995, but they had done so with their individual solo bands.

In the spring of 2009 the two reunited along with original drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman and toured the U.S. as The Dead. For this tour, Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band and Government Mule took over lead vocals and guitar in place of Jerry Garcia. This tour reignited the spark between Weir and Lesh and they decided they wanted to get back together and breathe new life into the timeless music.

The result was Furthur. Further was the name of the magic bus that Ken Keesey and the Merry Pranksters tooled around the country in, in the early 1960s. They, along with the Grateful Dead became famous for hosting parties called Acid Tests or Trips Festivals; in which they would give out LSD to everyone and just watched to see what happened. The Grateful Dead were a mainstay for many of the events, including one at San Francisco State University on October 2, 1966.

Weir and Lesh wanted to assemble a team of musicians who they felt comfortable playing with. The band is known for their improvisational ways and they needed musicians who could hear what was happening and be able to react accordingly. There was also of course the issue of who is going to take over the part of Jerry Garcia.

John Kadlecik had been the lead singer and guitarist for Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band that has been playing entire replicas of Grateful Dead shows since 1997.

In an interview on Lehigh Valley Music on February 14, 2010 by John J. Moser; Bob Weir said, “We went through the various options and listened to a lot of guys, and John seemed like a good idea on a number of levels. First off, he knew most of the material. And so it would require a whole lot less of the back-breaking rehearsals that it takes to teach somebody a whole book. I don’t know if Phil or I have that in us to do again. But, fortunately, there are a number of players who know our stuff, know our book. And of those folks, given that we play with a number of them, it was time to check out a couple more. And we started playing with John and it just, it clicked – the guy’s great.”

To back the three front men, they employed Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Jay Lane on drums; both of whom had played with Bob Weir in his band Rat Dog. Too remain in the tradition of two drummers they harnessed the ability of Joe Russo from Benevento/Russo Duo. To give the band the vocal depth they needed, back up vocalists Zoe Ellis and Sunshine Becker also joined the band.

The new group premiered to sold-out audiences for two nights in September 2009 at the Fox Theatre in Oakland. After these shows the band hit the road for a small U.S. tour followed by a two night run at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in down town San Francisco for New Years Eve.

After the New Years run, they treated Marin County fans to a small show at 19 Broadway night club/bar in Fairfax, which was then followed up by a nearly two-week run of live “rehearsal sessions” at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. The town was turned up-side down as Dead Heads descended upon the small town, with or without tickets to the intimate live shows.

On March 12, 2010 Furthur celebrated Phil Lesh’s seventieth birthday by holding a concert at Bill Graham Auditorium. Lesh thanked the audience and as he does at all shows he publicly remembered the young man who donated his liver to Phil Lesh in 1998, Lesh then encouraged everyone to become an Organ Donor. This remembrance was particularly heart felt because it was his birthday.

Shortly after, Lesh announced to fans through his website, philzone, that Jay Lane would be leaving the band to rejoin one of his original bands, another Bay Area great, Primus. The Furthur Festival in May would be the band’s first show with just one drummer.

As of now Furthur is still on the road. Selling out shows across the country, choosing to do multiple nights at some-what smaller venues and keep ticket prices reasonable rather than giant arena shows; they keep fans delighted and guessing each night as to what songs they will play and where they will take the music next. Their New Years Eve shows at the Bill Graham are most likely going to remain a tradition from here on out; a two night extravaganza of floats, midnight antics and delirious, mind-altering crowd mayhem.

There is more than one pan on the stove though. Weir has been working with the Marin Symphony to create a musical experience being billed as “First Fusion”. Weir and accompanying musicians will join the Marin Symphony to create unique renditions of selected Grateful Dead songs. A project that has been in the works for over a year, it will debut on May 7 at the Marin Music Auditorium in San Rafael. Proceeds will go to benefit the Marin Symphony and other Marin music programs.

As if Marin wasn’t getting enough love from the band, Lesh is close to purchasing a building in Fairfax to turn into a music venue. He plans to name it Terrapin Landing, and let it stand as a sort of home for Grateful Dead music and a place for him and his friends to host intimate concerts. The plans are still in the preliminary stages, and as of yet the purchase has not been made, but with recent press coverage the reality of it seems to be materializing.

Furthur will be back to the Bay Area for two nights at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on June 3 and 4. The boys have not been there since their 2009 tour as The Dead. The venue was built by legendary Bay Area concert promoter Bill Graham in 1985 to 1986. The shape of the venue is meant to resemble the Grateful Dead’s “Steal Your Face” logo.

Since the beginning the music of Grateful Dead has been about the fans and about community. The phenomenon of their followers, the open taping policy and sharing of the concerts and the relentless touring is only matched by a few other bands; and even with those bands, it is partly done in appreciation or in absence of the Grateful Dead.

But they’re back. Old fans are rejoicing to hear the music being played so well and new fans are happy to be given a chance to witness and experience one of America’s most interesting cult followings. They are a band that has transcended time and demographic and rests at the core of the jam band/festival scene which is very much alive from coast to coast to this day. Their music and their following started it all, and now in 2011, they are once again astounding crowds and creating followers of young and old.

Out withe the old and in with the new: Library enters final stages of construction

By xpressmagazine

There is indeed a plan. That massive, blue-tinted, glass curtain that jets out from the seemingly never ending library construction is part of a larger vision. Once completed, the glass wall will lead the eye on an unobstructed visual trip, from 19th Avenue straight down the walk-way, past the future site of a new Fine Arts Building and ending with a view of the Humanities Building. It is one building block in the puzzle that is the Campus Master Plan.

The San Francisco State campus has been without an official, centrally located library since the summer of 2008. The original completion date was set for the fall of 2011, but that date has since been moved back to the spring of 2012.

For many students, the long walk across campus to the Annex building between Lake Merced Drive and Winston Boulevard is just a way of life while attending SF State.

Alyssa Hagood is in her junior year as a business major. Most of her classes are in the business building, which would just be a stone’s throw from the library, if it were completed. But rather, she makes the ten minute walk at least once a week to the Annex where she can meet with other students to study.

“I never saw the old library and I don’t think I will be around to see the new one,” says Hagood. “I don’t mind the walk that much, but it’d be nice if I could just stop in really quick for a quiet place to study or meet with a group without having to go from one extreme end of the campus to the other.”

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Once you are there, the Annex is a pretty decent place to study or use a computer. But during mid-terms and finals, the large white room which has become known as “Club Annex” to some students due to its 24-hour accessibility gets crowded and space becomes scarce.

[pullquote author="Deborah Masters, Head librarian"]“I am really going to enjoy that moment,” says Masters. “Of walking into that building and seeing the students using it. I just want to see them everywhere. For students to have that kind of environment, with the natural light coming in from that glass façade is just so great. They are just going to gravitate to it.”[/pullquote]

Computers fill up, comfy chairs are taken and study tables are packed, but what every student can be sure of is that when the new library opens up, this will no longer be a problem.

It would appear that no one is more excited about the unveiling of the completed library than head university librarian, Deborah Masters.

Masters has been at SF State for sixteen years and for the last ten years she has been hands on in the process of getting the school a new library. Now, with just over a year toward the projected completion (a date that is likely subject to more delay), Masters is finally seeing the state of the art library materialize into its final form.

“I am just so going to enjoy that moment,” says Masters. “Of walking into that building and seeing the students using it. I just want to see them everywhere. For students to have that kind of environment, with the natural light coming in from that glass façade is just so great. They are just going to gravitate to it.”

Aside from enjoying the beautiful aesthetic of the architecture and the flood of natural light, students have a modern and very well equipped mega-library to look forward to.

On the ground floor of the six-story library, students will enter into a state of the art facility which will be known as the study commons. On this floor alone, students will have access to sixty desktop computers as well as forty places to use a laptop computer. Students can bring their own laptop and plug it in or borrow one of the hundred loaner laptops which will be available. Those same laptops are currently available for checkout in HSS 127.

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There will be media viewing and listening rooms with a checkout center located next to them. Any CDs or movies you may have seen in class will be available for viewing on your own time in a private room. Twelve study rooms will give students a private place to meet, equipped with white boards, media capabilities and enough seating space to hold six to twelve students depending on the room. This floor and all of its resources will be available to students 24 hours a day and can hold up to about three hundred people.

The next floor up will be an almost identical space, with computers, study rooms and media capabilities, unlike its ground floor companion with a small café serving ready-made foods, pastries, coffee and all the little things that fuel good studying.

“Occupancy data shows that you don’t need both floors to be open twenty-four hours a day,” says Masters. “But come finals and midterms, you do. There’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them (students) in there. We love them.”

As you ascend another level in the building, you come upon the open stacks and book collection. Rows of traditional library books will be available to browse and among the book collections, there will be more study spaces. Desks and chairs will be located along the perimeter and amidst the rows; outlets will provide power for laptops. In addition to the open book collection, this floor will house the multimedia production center where students can use editing software.

A selection of high demand and more recent books will be available in the open stacks for browsing, but around three-quarters of the school’s books will remain in the automatic retrieval system. Many students have become used to this process since the library first went into construction. A student may request a book through the reference desk or online. Those books are located in stacks where a mechanical arm retrieves them and delivers them to librarians or staff.

Currently, there are about a dozen students and other staff members that work to make those delivered books available to students. Despite what could be considered a lack of students using actual books for resources, Masters assures they are very busy with the automated retrieval system. The system saves space and has been working well. The stacks for the automated retrieval system will remain intact, in the west wing of the first and second floors.

The third floor will have even more accesable stacks of books and another large open study area with laptop capabilities, reference desks, maps, charts and other resources for students. The fourth floor will offer special collections, a children’s book section and more study space with outlets and desks. Masters feels that the higher you go in the building, the quieter it will get.

The fifth and sixth floors will be occupied by the Sutro Library. The Sutro Library is a branch of the California State Library. What started out as a significant collection of a couple hundred thousand volumes of rare books originally collected by Adolph Sutro has grown into a significant genealogical collection, according to Masters. Once the geneological collection is located in the campus library it will gain a lot of attention and will be a valuable asset, especially for graduate students who need primary sources for their research.

The construction of the library has been a two part process which in the end will have added 70,042 gross square-feet to the existing library. The first part of the process was the removal of old library resources, demolition of the Franciscan Building and the construction of the new wing. The exterior work is almost complete and the final phase is underway. Crews are moving onto seismically retrofitting the building and moving onto the interior work. Heating, plumbing, electricity, drywall, sprinklers and other finishing work will soon be uninterrupted by weather once the exterior is sealed.

Simon Lam is the Associate Vice President of Capital Planning, Design and Construction (CPDC) and his job is to oversee construction. He feels that the work running behind schedule is an inevitability of such a large construction project. According to Lam, in a project this large there will always be unforeseen complications that arise along the way.

CPDC is in charge of the campus master plan, which will be keeping the campus in a state of construction for the next several years.

According the SFSU Master Plan Website, the purpose of the phyiscial master plan is to create a functional setting that will meet the strategic goals of the University and support the academic mission. by and large, the plan aims to accomodate an increased enrollment from twenty thousand students to twenty -five thousand students by the year 2020. all new development is to occur withion existing campus boundaries.

While crews are in the final stretch, the library is not scheduled to be open for another year. Now it is time to begin selecting furniture and deciding what vendors will operate inside the building.

For a week in April, test furniture was displayed in Annex 1. A variety of chairs were set up near the computers and a feedback box was left to take suggestions and comments from students. Masters’ said they received a lot of feedback from students and will consider that when choosing chairs for lounging, computers and study tables.

The Unseen Side of SF State

By xpressmagazine

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To the untrained or inattentive observer, the campus of San Francisco State University is just that: a campus. The concrete and stucco of the Cold War era buildings are offset by the almost artificial brilliance of the lawns, reflected by the tinted glass that dominates the school’s new structures.

But in this dull monotony of a run-of-the-mill public university campus hides a whole variety of things worth discovering. SF State was, after all, founded in 1899, and over the last 112 years, students, teachers, staff, and artists have all done their part to make the campus into something more than the sum of its parts.

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Sound Web

What is it?
Sound Web is made up of 10 different “audible features.” Each of these features is, in fact, a small, brushed aluminum enclosure with a solar panel and a speaker, standing no more than two feet off the ground. Each enclosure plays one of four different sounds: Wind-Chime, Percussion and Rhythm, Bird-Call, or Cricket Chips. Scattered around campus, the sounds are meant to provide a guide to the visually impaired. The components are designed by SF State’s engineering students and professors, and are built as simply as possible—a good thing, since they have been repeatedly vandalized.

Why you should care:
A cool idea, and the sounds definitely add something to the ambiance of the campus, but trying to navigate around campus using only the different sounds? Way too hard, at least for this not-blind reporter.

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The Idiot

What is it?
The dilapidated, rusty features that make this metal sculpture so uncomfortable to look at also make it hard to miss. This eerie humanoid metal sculpture by artist R. Stone is located just behind the fine arts building across the road from the Humanities building. Several other works in the same style compliment the weathered metal art piece.

Why you should care:
These sculptures may make you feel uncomfortable, but that doesn’t make them any less works of art. The fabrication and patience required to create a form out of scrap metal and chain are impressive alone, even if the end result might not be for everybody.

Roots of Freedom/Raices De Libertad

What is it?
This mural is the first of three stunning works of Chicano-inspired art that grace the lowest level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. The first mural visible after coming down the stairs, the Roots of Freedom was completed in 1990, helped by sponsorship by the League of Chicano Artists/Taller de Arte Publico.

Why you should care:
Not the most stunning of the three works of art in the Cesar Chavez basement, but it depicts the most powerful political message, complete with activists being kept behind bars.

Cross of Quetzalcoatl

What is it?
The second of the three large works in the Cesar Chavez Student Center, the Cross of Quetzalcoatl was completed in 1991 by the Precita Eyes muralists, which describe themselves as “an inner city, community-based mural arts organization.” While the organization is based in the Mission, they have collaborated on projects not only around San Francisco, but as far away as Brazil, Russia, and Germany as well.

Why you should care:
Quetzalcoatl is an Aztec deity believed to be a half-bird, half-snake deity, although his name was also taken on by many Aztec leaders, making it difficult to separate the deity’s actions from those of the rulers. As far as the piece of art goes, it has a very traditional look to it, which works nicely to balance out the constant noises of the arcade games that dominate the room.

Rise/Libertad

What is it?
This enormous mural dominates the bottom floor of the Student Center. Juana Alicia, who describes herself as “a muralist, print-maker, educator, activist, and painter who loves to draw,” painted the mural in 1990.

Why you should care:
With its bright colors, multiple layers and a hint of graffiti-style, Rise is easily the most eye-grabbing of the three big murals on Cesar Chavez Student Center’s recreation level. This painting manages to keep enough of the traditional Chicano feel to match the other two works, but is also more contemporary, thanks to its use of neon colors and a more modern style.

Universal Design Seating Studio

What is it?
This is actually a threesome of innovative approaches to seating, located on the patio of the Fine Arts building. A joint project between SF State design and industry and engineering students, Facilities Management and the Disability Programs and Research Center, the project tries to create novel ways to solve the issue of seating. MyTable is an adjustable-height table that features a wheel in the middle to rotate the whole assembly, and surrounding benches for seating. The now-defucnt MySolarTable is much the same, but used a solar panel to power an electrical lift to adjust the table height. Finally, The OpenBench is a series of recycled-plastic benches around a planter. The benches slide back and forth and tracks to create a number of different seating arrangements.

Why you should care:
All of the Universal Design Seating Studio is showing its age, but we were most bummed out that MySolarTable seems to be completely inoperable, and to make matters worse, it is stuck at a less-than-comfortable height. It would be great to see someone get the rig working again. Our favorite, and the most practical, is the OpenBench, which still works flawlessly and is very adaptable.

Untitled Works

What are they?
While sitting at the Universal Design Seating Studio, be sure to check out these modern art metal sculptures by Manuel Martin on the same Fine Arts building patio. Also, be sure to check out the wooden benches carved out of enormous logs while you are up there.

Why you should care:
The rusty surface of these steel structures falls somewhere in between “cool, old and weathered” and simply “derelict.” It may seem odd to have large hunks of steel on an second-story patio, but it is the fine arts building.

Rigoberta Menchu Hall

What is it?
This makes our list because it is the coolest place to chill out or study at SF State. Located on the Terrace level (the top floor) of the Cesar Chavez Student Center, the multi-level lounge/study area feels more like a home than a school, complete with couches and large areas that seem to be meant for fires. The hall’s namesake, Mecnhu won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work to publicize the plight of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala during that nation’s civil war from 1960 to 1996.

Why you should care:
A great place to study, but it fills up fast. Try checking the topmost levels for free seating, but the best bet is to get there early, or go during off-hours when campus is less busy.

SF State Observatory

What is it?
Located at the top of Thornton Hall, the Observatory is open to the public Monday and Wednesday evenings from 8 to 9:30 p.m., weather permitting. The observatory promises views of the Orion Nebula, the Pleiades, and the Andromeda Galaxy, just to name a few.

Our verdict
Seriously awesome. If you even have a remote interest in stars, the sky, or astronomy, check it out.

Flaura

What is it?
On the path leading to the Humanities building across from Cafe Rosso, Kevin La created this metal art enclosure for an electric utility box as a student work. Different size metal circles are cut out and welded together on a metal frame, creating a beautiful floral pattern that encapsulates and hides the utilitarian box that lurks beneath.

Why you should care:
The whole is definitely more than the sum of its parts in this case. It’s amazing what even a little, simple art can do to spruce up something like an ugly utility box. The world needs more art like this.

The Garden of Remembrance

What is it?
Located on the path between Burk Hall and Cesar Chavez, the Garden of Remembrance was created to honor the 19 Japanese American SF State students who were forced into internment camps during World War II. The 2001 build was led by Japanese American artist and internment camp victim Ruth Asawa, and features a waterfall and ten large boulders from each of the ten internment camps.

Why you should care:
A surprisingly touching story behind what many probably just see as a fountain and rock garden in a courtyard. But however you choose to see it, the flowing water has a nice calming effect to help balance out the madness of college.

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Ode to Hank

What is it?
These five aluminum totems that lean against the Cesar Chavez Student Center across from the gym are, in fact, a tribute by artist Terry Marashlian to the original installation of five wooden totem poles by artist Hank De Rlcco. “I meant them to be way more architectural,” Marashlian told [X]press in 2008.

Why you should care:
A brilliantly modern take on the idea of a totem pole. Aluminum construction and high tech finishing ala yachting and automotive design bring the icons of the Pacific Northwest into the 21st century.

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Buckeye and Benches

What is it?
Outside the gym, this enormous, modern-art metal sculpture by William Wareham would be impressive enough standing on its own, but it is also complimented by three matching benches that are scattered around the area.

Why you should care:
The sculpture we can take or leave, but we love the benches. Whenever art meets practicality, everybody wins. The bright reds, oranges and yellows that color this piece make it stand out from the bright green lawn and the grayed gym building that make up the background.

Transitory Art

By xpressmagazine

Making my way out of the M line, as I get off at the Powell station, I pause before heading towards the stairs and see a drawing. Its captivity perfectly colors a memory that I have lived too often. The piece hangs on the BART wall, next to other advertisements which offer a range of subliminal messages from food delivery services to apparel promotion. The drawing, which seems to be done with color pencil, casually displays three teenage girl friends sitting down, their backs hunched, laughing as they patiently wait for a show. They are all wearing black punk band t-shirts; a Misfits and a Ramones shirt I think I still have tucked somewhere deep down in my dresser. It is obvious their black pants are hand-sewn, as Shizu Saldamando made sure to include every crooked detail on the lining. For artist Saldamando, this drawing recounts her adventures of taking BART into Berkeley to shop for records and attend punk shows. She captures a scene most teenage generations can relate to. Whether it is the bright pink hair or the fact that they are all wearing black from head to toe, it is an image any youngster has walked by or remembers being in. Saldamando, along with four other Chicana artists, evolve from depicting the old as they create colorful art promoting the Latina culture of today.

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ChicaChic is a new wave of artwork that expands beyond expressing personal identity, reflecting community issues, sending messages of culture, lifestyle and beliefs. Artist Angelica Muro tackles social, cultural, and political problems by using irony and class identity. Muro’s piece, Agricultural Workers in Gucci, is an archival pigment print where a three-piece drawing seems like a simple illustration of workers in the fields, eating lunch. Taking a closer look, there is one female worker wearing designer Gucci heels and matching purse. The workers are black and white, contrasting the majestic surroundings. Muro illustrates detailed flowers full of color, which gives the piece a sense of serenity, diverging the real issue of the drastic conditions workers go through. Muro’s way of displaying issues like this one leaves the observer with questions on how we define certain social economic statuses, and why analyzing a drawing in which a field worker wearing Gucci seems almost wrong.

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Another significant piece being displayed around BART stations is a painting of a woman, who is using her knees and hands to lean closer to what seems to be a beach, allowing the ocean waves to wash her hair. The underlying message that artist, Ana Teresa Fernandez conveys is placing herself in a black cocktail dress, her head down as her long dark hair washes the waves at the southern border, where San Diego meets Tijuana. Fernandez feels her piece, Acuario, speaks to the way the exhibition is instilled within a transitory space. “I chose the piece that was specifically at the border, which talks about a place one has to stop at to go to a completely different country, and unlike the BART, it’s a place that you either get rejected to go or not,” says Fernandez.

The posters on BART are an extension of the complete exhibition being displayed at The California Institution of Integral Studies. The paintings can be located at 1453 Mission Street, and the CIIS building is on 695 Minna Street.

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Exhibiting this new wave of Chicana art is an example of the many elements Latina artwork is reaching. Incorporating older techniques like embroidery with creating contemporary images of current issues gives the art a fresh, innovative look. While a range of pieces still touch on traditions and culture, they explore new tactics that indirectly deliver deep community concerns, leaving the observer with much more to ponder.

Commuting: SF State from Outside San Francisco

By xpressmagazine

She is sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor, leaning towards her long mirror as she carefully applies a thick coat of eyeliner. Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” is playing in her cave-like room. She grabs her black jacket, purse, and heads off for a night out with friends. She pulls her scooter from the garage to the driveway and when she turns it on, she realizes the meter is not working. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Kaela PerLee says to herself. Annoyed, she makes her last attempt knowing in the back of her head that it is not going to work. In San Francisco, this would not come as a hastle as PerLee can easily catch public transportation almost anywhere within a short walking distance. Living in Daly City however, is another story. “Walking from my house to Daly City BART takes 20 minutes, and though the actual BART ride is not long, I have to make sure I head to a BART station before midnight to catch the last train out of San Francisco.” PerLee knows it is more of a drag going out at night, so she constantly reminds herself when to say goodbye and start making the long trip home.

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PerLee moved from Santa Rosa to attend  SF State University almost two years ago, and though it has been a new experience living away from home, she sometimes feels shortchanged not being able to live in actual San Francisco. With rent so high, many SF State students struggle to find an affordable place to live in the city. Whether it is Daly City or the East Bay, having to commute longer distances can get in the way of enjoying the active, lively environment of San Francisco. Some college students transfer or apply to SF State to experience the diverse lifestyle the city offers, along with its campus. Others, for certain reasons, reside outside the city. So are students really missing out on the experience of living in the city? Or is cheaper rent worth the longer walks, commutes and extra efforts?

[pullquote author="Heather Boyer, SF State student living in Fremont"]“I hate the prices of everything, like rent, parking, parking tickets and taxes. I dislike traffic and the busyness of life [in San Francisco] sometimes, but it depends on where you live”[/pullquote]

Matthew Becerra remembers those tedious mornings when he lived in Daly City. He recalls having to walk up 87th Street, then down the long stretch of Junipero Serra where he walked over the same bridge, passed the same gas station, then the abandoned buildings and animal hospital that never seemed to be open. As the Century Theater sign got bigger, Becerra felt the long walk coming to an end as he reached BART, and left the dreadful fog of Daly City behind. “Because I lived on the border of Daly City and San Francisco, there was no MUNI nearby for me and so I had to walk to the BART station everyday to take the free shuttle,” says the 22-year-old SF State student. Now that he lives in Park Merced, it takes him a swift two minutes rather than two hours to get to class. “The convenience makes my life a lot easier in so many ways as I can plan my schedule and daily routine without worrying about how to get back to Daly City, seeing as how their public transportation seem to stop running around 8p.m.”

On the other hand, art education major, Heather Boyer, can handle the extra hours of commuting to SF State from Fremont all in effort of staying closer to family and friends. Like Bacerra, Boyer’s mornings start about three hours before class. She takes an hour to get ready, grabs a quick breakfast, then walks to Fremont BART, which takes around 15 to 20 minutes. It takes a little over an hour until Boyer makes it to Daly City BART where she catches the shuttle; her final commute to State. When Boyer plans to hang out in the city, she finds ways to save money and time by staying at a friends house and driving instead of relying on public transportation. Living outside of San Francisco doesn’t stop Boyer from enjoying the city living perks, but she does however, prefer Fremont’s weather and economic living. “I hate the prices of everything, like rent, parking, parking tickets and taxes. I dislike traffic and the busyness of life [in San Francisco] sometimes, but it depends on where you live,” says Boyer.

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While people choose to make a home outside the city in hopes of saving some money, the cost of public transportation can still add up. Taking BART one way from any city outside of San Francisco to Powell Street is no less than $2.95, compared to the $1.75 spent commuting within San Francisco. MUNI has bus lines crossing any area within the city and offers a transfer that is valid for two hours for $2. As for San Mateo’s public transportation, the SamTrans runs only every half hour between certain times, depending on the day, and charges $2 without a transfer.
Michelle Dayrit a Fremont resident and newly transfer student spends $50 commuting from Fremont to San Francisco then to Berkeley (where she works) twice a week. But like Boyer, despite the traveling woes, Dayrit still prefers the quiet living environment Fremont offers.

Attending a school like SF State usually means that a  good percentage of  those commuter students do not depend on their parents, and have economic statuses where they have to work in order to pay for their own education. “I don’t qualify for financial aid and both my parents passed away, leaving me with no help from family. Therefore, I have to work full time and take out loans in order to attend SF State,” says Dayrit, 26, a communications major. “But I’m okay with it. They never said it would be easy, but they did say it would be worth it.” Having an ill father, Boyer also felt it was important to stay home to be there for her father, and help out with household expenses. When her father passed away, Boyer’s priority was to stay close to her family. Born and raised in the East Bay, Boyer does not feel the need to move to San Francisco as most of her friends and family live in Fremont while she can still commute to the city for school or to hang out.   

In Becerra’s case, moving to San Francisco gave him a better opportunity to find a job, which compensates him having to spend more money. One of the greatest temptations of living in San Francisco, Becerra describes, is its vast variety of delicious local restaurants and bars conveniently located everywhere in the city. Which makes it easier for students like him to spend more money on dining out rather than taking the time to actually cook something. And even if cooking is an option, grocery shopping in the city is not cheap.

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Commuting from the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge is mechanical engineering major, Jason Mehrens. Everyday, he spends about an hour in his car battling traffic, from Mill Valley in Marin County to SF State. For Mehrens, the disadvantage of living away from San Francisco is having to commute all the time. Whether it’s a school function or personal leisure in the city, driving is the easiest option. Mehrens lives with his parents to save money and has a tuition waiver through the Veterans Affairs office. Even with some financial assistance from the government, he still has to take out loans and work some hours in order to cover college costs, which leaves him with very little free time to spare. Having spent one year at Chico State then three years living in Santa Barbara working on his Associates Degree, Mehrens feels like he has already experienced college living. “I can’t make up my mind if I want to live in the city because I work in Marin,” says Mehrens. “If I worked in the city, then I would probably make the move, but I don’t like the feel of living in close proximity to thousands and thousands of people stacked on top of one another.” It is a hard trade given the miles of parks and rich forests Marin houses, or the serene atmosphere the county has to offer, as hours can go by without having to hear the loud noises of traffic and busy city people. For Bacerra, moving closer to campus has encouraged him to become active in campus life. He is trying to join the History Students Association and now finds himself having more time to attend sporting events since his commute time is cut significantly. But for others, like Dayrit and Mehrens, getting away from the city’s rowdiness is worth the extra miles and longer BART rides.  

Life Online

By xpressmagazine

She makes her way home on the 9X, a Muni bus line of questionable sanitation, and trudges upstairs. First thing she does is open her MacBook Pro, simultaneously checks her three e-mail accounts and of course, Facebook, for any new messages or notifications. She thinks of a boy she used to date and immediately jumps to his Facebook page. She searches through his recent status updates for any incriminating evidence to reassure herself of the decision to stop seeing him. She looks through some of his posted pictures and ends up browsing through some of his friends. The weekend arrives and she is out and about at a bar. She ends up running into the boy and he introduces her to some of his friends. One happens to be someone she had found on Facebook. Josie Cabrera, 21, has found herself in an uncomfortable situation.

“It’s extremely awkward when something like this happens,” Cabrera says. “You’re standing there and get so anxious when they are talking to you. You have to try to make sure not to act like you know anything about them from Facebook otherwise they might think you’re kind of creepy.”

Not only is Facebook a popular method of keeping in touch, networking or virtually meeting someone, but there is also MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendster, Bebo, Meetup and more. This past February, The Nielsen Company reported that social media use increased to 82 percent worldwide. According to a study from Anderson Analytics, about two-thirds of social networking users will only connect with people they actually know or have met in person. However, this doesn’t mean that their privacy is secure.

Some people, such as Mozelle Thompson, former Federal Trade Commissioner and now CEO of a firm that advises Facebook on such matters as privacy, believes that privacy is not a binary matter. In a 2009 interview with Melbourne periodical The Age, he said people need to reveal “a certain amount of personal information so others can find them…and so they can know that they can trust them.”

If a person has an overwhelming amount of “friends” or people they are connected to on one of these sites, it may or may not make someone question their validity. People may wonder: do they really know that many people? Or, why are they willing to be “friends” with just anyone? At the same time, it affects whether or not someone will think you’re worth knowing.

The year is 2008 and Cabrera is living in Irvine. She scopes Craigslist looking for rooms for rent in San Francisco. When she finds one that seems like a good fit she Googles his or her name and searches for their Facebook account hoping it isn’t on a private setting. Sometimes she lucks out and finds a public account. She looks through pictures and status updates to try to get a sense of personality.

“I used Facebook a lot to ‘check out’ potential roommates before I moved up here,” Cabrera says. “For example, if I see a girl with a lot of pictures of her at clubs and bars with a lot of people, I’m probably going to think she parties a lot. Or if I see someone that has frequent status updates then I’m going to assume that person likes to talk.”

Now it is 2009, Cabrera finds employment after graduation in her field of study. Shortly after being hired, she changes her privacy settings to make her profile even more inaccessible. She does not join her company network and does not even list it on her page. The only information the public can view is her current city of residence and her AIM screen name. She deletes her LinkedIn account; it was required by her college to have one during enrollment. Cabrera estimates that she only keeps in contact with under a quarter of the amount of friends she has on Facebook, which is currently at 340.

“I’m only friends with one person from work,” Cabrera says. “I’m a very private person already and I just didn’t want my personal life to be associated with my professional life.”

Since 2008, there have been articles published regarding the use of social media sites as part of the hiring process. CareerBuilder.com reported that one in five employers use this to screen candidates.

“Millions of people are leaving personal information, online, much of which is cached and remains available via search engines even after the author has removed the web page,” said Peter Cunningham, UK country manager for Viadeo, a professional social networking site similar to LinkedIn.

Social Media Sites in the Workplace

She stole from the people she babysat for, she stole a stranger’s purse at a bar and most recently she stole from work. These are status updates on the Facebook page of one of the internship applicants Eve Batey has reviewed. Batey, 38, is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal, an online newspaper. She recalls several other stories similar to this.

“In the era of Facebook, there’s no alter ego, no double identity, not unless you really work at that,” Batey says. “You can no longer expect that different aspects of your life won’t overlap, if you put it online. Remember, when you Google someone, their Facebook profile is usually on page one.”

Batey uses Facebook and Twitter sparingly compared to some people. Batey wakes up, goes to work and checks her Twitter account once. She only logs into Facebook if she has time to answer a message sent. When she gets a friend request, it is usually from an old high school friend. She enjoys looking at pictures in an attempt to feel like she’s aged better, but other than that she doesn’t use Facebook that often. After a long day at work, she will check her Twitter account once more before going to bed. On weekends, she checks Twitter more often to make sure she knows what’s going on online and she will occasionally “tweet” when the urge strikes her. Batey sees a personal status update with too much information from one of her virtual friends and is baffled.

[pullquote author="Eve Batey, SF Appeal"]“You can no longer expect that different aspects of your life won’t overlap, if you put it online. Remember, when you Google someone, their Facebook profile is usually on page one.”[/pullquote]

“I started personal blogging in 1997 and I was always kind of stunned by people who put ‘it all’ out there, like, how will you get a job?” Batey says.

Young Lee, 29, and Ryan Kirkman, 30, know a thing or two about Facebook. They are part of RockYou!’s business development team. RockYou! is a Bay Area-based company that provides, publishes and develops social media network services and applications for sites like Facebook and MySpace. It is safe to say that the duo have an opinion on Facebook’s potential in regards to user-privacy.

“I’ve definitely checked out an applicant’s facebook profile before or after interviewing them,” says Kirkman, Creative Director of Brand. “Or even checked out a cute girl I met. Most of the time privacy settings really prevent me from seeing much, but sometimes its interesting to see what they have decided to make publicly available.”

Lee believes any related to deeply personal information or business information should be omitted from Facebook. If you are using Facebook or Twitter for a business purpose then it should be treated as a public forum, according to Lee.

As does engineering associate, Zheng Xu, a fellow RockYou! employee. “Facebook is still public no matter how private you set it,” Xu, 31, says referring to Facebook’s illusive privacy policy.

The Facebook privacy policy states, “We keep track of some of the actions you take on Facebook, such as adding connections (including joining a group or adding a friend), creating a photo album, sending a gift, poking another user, indicating you “like” a post, attending an event, or connecting with an application. In some cases you are also taking an action when you provide information or content to us. For example, if you share a video, in addition to storing the actual content you uploaded, we might log the fact that you shared it.” Almost everything you do becomes property of Facebook once it’s posted regardless of whether your settings are on default or have been changed to private.

This is where Xu has a moral and ethical dilemma with the policy settings. Xu is the type of guy to keep his private life and business life separate. He only caved into getting a Facebook because of work initially. However, if it was not required for work and enough friends sent him invites he would have created an account anyway.

“I think Facebook is too loose on the the default settings,” Xu says. “The Facebook Privacy Policy should have the default be private and then the user can change the settings.”

Lee has similar sentiments about the situation. He too does not favor the current set-up for the default settings. He says they are too in-depth and not incredibly user-friendly. Anything that takes more than a few button clicks will lose the interest of many users, even if involves private information. Lee likens it to theft.

“Most people won’t start taking security measures until they’ve been burglarized, or heard of someone else being burglarized,” he says. “The consumer needs to take advantage of the various implications on the social networks. In the end, it really is up to Facebook to take the moral stance on controlling the psychology of users to how much personal information gets defaulted out to the public domain.”

On April 23, the The Conference Board, a non-profit business organization with global membership, held an event on Business Ethics & Compliance. Stephen Noughton, of the Pepsi Refresh Project, which is trying to gain attention of social media users, asked, “Does a potential candidate’s presence on social media [networks] deserve a place in the traditional background check?” This was not resolved at the conference according to Vault.com, a comprehensive Internet resource for companies and job-seekers alike.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Charles Becker, 22, a recent graduate knows what to be leery of when it comes to the job market and Facebook. He has quite a few web sites linked up with his profile page, but they all go to sites that relate to his field of work. He only has a few pictures accessible to the public and his contact e-mail along with some favorite quotes and books. None of which are the least bit distasteful to the average Facebook member.

“It’s regular practice for employers to check Facebook profiles before offering interviews or even a job,” Becker says. “As with anything else, your profile reflects you, your beliefs and your ambitions. It’s foolish to allow uncensored or incriminating entries to tarnish your page, which is your branding in our tech-driven world. I think some people are a little slower to understand the importance of image. They may feel that with enough experience, it shouldn’t matter what you do in your spare time–and it doesn’t. But, the world doesn’t need to know, especially if it involves smoking an illegal substance when you called in sick.”

Branding Yourself on Social Media Sites

Branding yourself, so to speak, has become quite necessary to some. There is even a web site called AllFacebook.com that has an article titled “10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know” by Nick O’Neill that is a must-read if you want to keep or get a job according to Brand-Yourself blogger, Pete Kistler.

Batey, who may not be an avid Facebook and Twitter user, suspects she interacts with Google Reader, a feed aggregator, in the way that  lot of people use Facebook. She shares a lot, follows a lot of people and enjoys the engaging conversations that arise from some of the comments made. However, in order to enjoy participating in these conversations more candidly, she keeps her Reader private.

“I’m already on Reader tracking the news and what everyone else is writing about all day, so it’s both useful and nice to have that social networking element to it. But even then, I am aware of my brand and who I am. I’m not going to share an item from a small personal blog and posting ‘What a [insert insult here]!’ even if I was thinking that as I read it. You never know how that might get passed on.”

Batey is pro-honesty and openness online, but believes that everyone, not just media folks, need to think of themselves as brands.

“One of my closet friends is a sex writer,” Batey says. “She tweets or uploads things to Flickr that would keep her application to the convent denied, but getting to the nunnery is not part of her brand.”

In January, Katie Stansberry, an instructor in social media at the University of Oregon posted an article on the ISTE Connects web site about a new approach she took to convey to students the importance of protecting their online reputation.

“When I announced that instead of a typical get-to-know-you activity, I was going to show them what a future employer might find if they were checking them out as part of a hiring decision there were some nervous murmurs,” Stansberry wrote. “However, as we went through the slides and discussed each student’s personal brand there were lots of good-natured laughs and some rueful grins. Several students learned that photos and comments they had thought were private were actually accessible to the public.”

In the comments below her post, one of Stansberry’s students during this exercise wrote, “Katie did introduce an interesting point to me though. Why is my online presence so private? Because I am going into a field that works very closely with social media, I need to be able to show that I am involved with it.”

But again, concern should not be limited to undergraduates or young adults interested or involved in the media rather all should be aware.

“I love Vegas!” reads the status of a young woman.

Meinani Villareal, 25, made a recent trip to Sin City with a couple of friends. One of the friends posted about the trip and her aunt, who is highly religious, ended up seeing it and commented on it. The incident caused a lot tension in the family and her aunt was not amused to say the least.

Villareal is what some may call a Facebook junkie and she is only going on three years of having the account now. She says she uses Facebook “all day, every day” and even has notifications sent to her cell phone when she gets new messages or if someone comments on her profile. She enjoys updating her status frequently and posting pictures of trips like the one that caused some family drama for her friend. But, Villareal has been a bit more cautious with what she posts online since the trip.

“Although I post random pictures that not everyone should see, I do care how people will depict me,” Villareal says. “I don’t want them to create wild interpretations of what kind of person I am.  Even if it is a crazy picture, or inappropriate picture, I am not necessarily a crazy person or an inappropriate person with bad morals.”

Therefore Villareal appreciates the Facebook privacy settings that can somewhat censor what some of the younger people in her network can see.   “I do limit access to certain people like to anyone that probably wouldn’t be caught in a crazy picture or situation with me,” she says.

According to the list complied by Nick O’Neill for the AllFacebook.com article on privacy settings to know “Using Your Friends List” is the first mentioned. Nava Noori, 23, a recent SF State graduate, utilizes this feature because she says her family and friends have different perceptions of her. In order to keep their view of her the same, she feels the needs to limit what each group can see on her profile page.

Though she likes the privacy settings, she doesn’t like how alterations to the privacy policy are not announced in a more obvious way. “There is never any big announcement before Facebook changes the criteria. At least, not in a way that the average user would really notice for a while.”

Cesar Tapia, 23, an undergraduate at SF State thinks that users needs to have a clear understanding not to put any information that may come back to haunt you in five to 10 years. Private information or information that is not beneficiary to the user should not be posted or at least be aware that it is impossible to fully guard anything you post on a social media site in Tapia’s opinion.

“The fact that I haven’t run into any negative problems with these kind of sites are a result of me being careful with what I post,” Tapia says. “I’m always thinking about my parents reaction if they were to see it. I think that social media sites are not to be messed with and people should be careful with them.”

The Need for Facebook and Update Overload

If you have to watch out for what you post so much, some people may wonder why even have an account? What’s the need for Facebook? What makes so many people, 400 million active users according to the Facebook Press Room, intent on spending over 500 billion minutes per month on the site.

Fernando Novoa, 22, another SF State graduate believes that it is curiosity. “Although we hate the news feeds, the reality is that we are all interested in what other people are doing, and to some extent, we want people to be curious about what we do,” Novoa says. “We want to seem interesting to others.”

He says that whatever you post is a reflection of you in the same way your clothes, friends, habits and the activites you join are. “However, couple it with the concept that we live in an age of social media networks and you can start to see the depth to what a minor drunk night might do for your reputation,” he says.

Teenagers and young adults are not the only social media users. In fact, the largest age group of Facebook users is actually 35 and older. Less problems may arise with these users than younger users due to a variety of reasons.

[pullquote author="Lee Young, former RockYou! employee"]“In the end, it really is up to Facebook to take the moral stance on controlling the psychology of users to how much personal information gets defaulted out to the public domain.”[/pullquote]

Xu says he rarely updates his Facebook page and most of his friends follow suit. “A lot of my friends are older and usually on post updates if they have a child, go on a trip or have pictures of a special event,” he says.

So, what about the younger crowd? A lot of younger people aged 17 and younger are still using sites like MySpace according a study conducted by Royal Pingdom, a blog dedicated web development. Pingdom monitors the performance of such sites.

In June 2009, The Neilsen Company published a report called “How Teens Use Media” and found that “social networks are a key source of information and advice in a critical developmental period: 57 [percent] of teen social networkers said they looked to their online social network for advice, making them [a third] more likely to do this than the typical social networker.”

Bryan Reyna, 16, a Bay Area high school junior, says he uses Facebook to talk to people in the same way he uses his text messaging. But, he also says he does not post anything personal or things that would upset his family. He believes a lot of his peers are either ignorant about the consequences of certain things getting leaked or that they just do not care.

A former classmate that attended a Catholic school in the South Bay posted comments related to smoking marijuana and his parents as well as school administration found out. He was expelled from the school. Reyna says it does not affect the student because he still post similar things on his Facebook page.

Another incident happened with a different student where an inappropriate YouTube video was posted with the student wearing the school jacket. The student was suspended. This is a strikingly similar to what can happen in the workforce. An employer can fire someone based off inappropriate postings on the Internet as long as it is not used to discriminate against the employee.

The amount of use for some teens seems a bit excessive. In December 2009, AOL News reported that “a poll conducted by Common Sense Media found that nearly a quarter of all teens who belong to Facebook check their page more than 10 times each day”.

Reyna who says that he checks his own Facebook account about three to four times daily speculates that people in his age group are attention seekers. “Guys and girls are needy,” Reyna says. “It’s rewarding if they post something revealing and a person compliments them or comments on it. It makes them want to keep doing it.”

Xu says people that update constantly crave attention. They need the world to hear their voice, which is a lot of people. But, he can understand why people post a lot and relates it to being in high school. “Everyone wanted to be special and unique…but your profile is not the confession room,” Xu says.

Cabrera has spent a little over an hour halfway browsing on Facebook and halfway folding laundry. She admits it can be distracting, especially if you’re trying to “get over” someone you dated. She is contemplating deactivating her account for a while like she had done before. Her longest deactivation period is three months. But, she admits that even when she deactivated hers, she would just log into her best friend’s account and see what people were posting.

“Anyway, I really have to clean up my room,” Cabrera says while clicking away at different people’s Facebook pages, her eyes in shock at the screen of what no doubt has an image or blurb about something someone posted.

Rebel Tongues Find Their Voice

By xpressmagazine

If the glowing yellow walls could talk, they would echo every story uttered in broken tongues. The walls are silent today, but every first Friday of the month, the multitude of stories told over Hip Hop instrumentals along with the low hum of acoustic guitars breaks through those walls and out onto the streets, where poetry smells like the trailing aromas of hot tortillas and carne asada mixed with weed smoke.

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For decades, a vibrant literary arts and open mic scene has flourished in San Francisco. From the beat poets at City Lights bookstore howling at the moon to the Chicano poets on 24th and Mission streets reclaiming history forgotten, the spirit of the open mic has never been more alive, especially in unknown enclaves of San Francisco, like the Excelsior District.

The Excelsior District is located barely beyond the city limits of the Mission District— one of San Francisco’s more popular and well-known neighborhoods. Southeast of the more affluent West Portal neighborhood, and southwest of Bayview Hunter’s Point. Graffiti like hieroglyphics glare honestly at passerby, telling visceral stories of a neighborhood that is not usually recognized.

In Progress Open Mic, a social-justice centered open mic is created by community organizer and SF State alum Anthony Navarro. He attempts to change the perception of the neighborhood, rarely covered in the media unless the stories are about crime. Every first Friday of the month at Mama’s Art Café, between Leo Street and Russia Avenue, the unbounded creativity from Excelsior residents, particularly “at-risk” and immigrant youth, fill in the space where silence used to be.

He is sitting uncomfortably on the floor in the cramped children’s section of the bookstore. Against the backdrop of brightly colored and overpriced stuffed animals and disheveled books, he stands out in his modest brown ADIDAS zip up jacket and tan paperboy hat. “My parents were both immigrants so there was a generational disconnect,” Navarro says. “I grew up in a broken household and faced issues of domestic violence and criminal activity. My siblings and I learned how to survive in extreme abuse.”

Navarro’s own life reflects many of the youth he works with as the youth program coordinator for the Filipino Community Center (FCC) in the Excelsior District. The straight line on his lips turns into a slight smile as he reminisces about the Hip Hop community that shaped him.

“Hip Hop has always been around me and the culture has been present in my life for a long time,” Navarro says. He discusses his move from San Diego to San Francisco in 2005 and connecting with the Hip Hop community in the Bay Area and realized that many of the immigrant youth in San Francisco had little support and access to resources.

“Nobody was building with the youth,” he says. “I connected with the youth because I was determined to connect with them. I spent every day at the FCC getting to know them, even though I could not speak Tagalog. The language we would communicate in was Hip Hop.

Kristen Sajonas, 28,  sits with her legs crossed on the old couch that once resembled the color gray as her rebel tongue recites the the history of the literary arts scene in the Bay Area that she was surrounded by. Her brown tousled hair and crooked septum ring do not distract the years of poetry history she has memorized by heart. She is one of the main organizers for the Asian and Pacific Islander Poetry Summit that occurs every two years in different parts of the U.S.

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“I was always writing as a kid, but then I started to share my work and realized there were other people writing in high school,” Sajonas says. “Spoken word started becoming cool and I think it was greatly influenced by hip hop and the rejection of mainstream culture.”

According to Sajonas, the open mic and strong poetry community in the Bay Area has served as a transformative space for dialogue, healing, and reclaiming personal and collective histories.

“Poetry takes a lot of different forms, but the craft of writing is arguably the most important thing,” she adds. “The bottom line is that sharing is important. Just as long as [the writing] is communicated, that is powerful in itself.”

Every first Friday of the month, the small and colorful cafe becomes home to a diversity of young people’s stories whose topics range from ex-girlfriends to various every day survival  stories about rape and sexual abuse.

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“Every culture has some sort of storytelling nature. The point is to be able to harness our oral histories and apply them to the conditions in which we live,” Sajonas says. “To use and control your own voice is especially powerful for someone who has felt like they don’t matter.”

According to organizer for In Progress, literary arts and poetry,  Ed Jr. Arimboanga, 23, open mic is an important for “at-risk” and immigrant youth because it provides a space that is free from rigidity and scrutiny.

“At In Progess, anybody of any background can grace the mic with whatever is on their mind and more importantly, the audience is always more likely to applaud, cheer, and embrace that person’s performance, no matter what it was about,” Arimboanga says.

His gray and white streaked slick back hair is stiff as he lectures enthusiastically in his class at SF State. His arms flail in excitement and his youthfulness is evident in wide eyes and sly smirk. Oscar Penaranda, 66, has been active in the literary arts scene in San Francisco and the Bay Area since the student strike at SF State occurred in the late 1960s.

Penaranda is an SF State alum who now teaches in the Ethnic Studies department. He has been published in several poetry anthologies like Field of Mirrors and Seasons by the Bay, and his own book of poetry entitled, Full Deck (Jokers Playing).

“Poetry and oral storytelling keeps a person’s self worth intact and gives you a voice to free and liberate yourself,” Penaranda says.

According to Sharim Hannegan, 21, an SF State alum and frequent participant in open mics, for a long time, poetry and the open mic have been part of a larger literacy movement. She also discusses the political ways poetry has been used in Arizona to resist the anti-immigrant bill known as SB 1070.

“Being able to write down your history is monumental,” she says. “Some of our histories are so rarely documented except in the tongues of our families. The poetry scene provides a space for people to reclaim their voice when other institutions don’t give them a space. Open mic spaces allows you the space to reclaim your humanity.”

He remembers the first time he met the now 19-year-old former Galileo High School student who suffered from being bipolar a mental health problem. After working with him day in and day out at the FCC even on the harder days when the former high school student wanted to fight him, Navarro understood the importance of pushing youth to their potential and providing them with a safe space. He recalls those harder days much easier now as he closes his eyes and smiles thinking about the 19-year-old who has become a regular participant at the In Progress Open Mic. “He raps off beat sometimes,” Navarro laughs, knowing very well what it feels like suffer as a young person who is lost and silenced, with no outlet to speak.

“Because we are so powerless economically, institutionally, and politically, to use and and control our voices in a way that serves us is amazing,” Sajonas says. “Being able to speak is a very basic but powerful act for young people who are scared of their own voice or think that what they have to say doesn’t matter.”

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