Archive for April, 2012

Hunting A Story’s Story

By xpressmagazine


Jason Dewee browses through "Colossus of Maroussi" by Henry miller at his work place Flora Grubb Gardens, Feb. 28, 2012. Dewee brought the book in 1989 and donated years later. The book was found in OURSHELVES, a lending library inside Viracocha antique store. Photo by Hang Cheng.

Written by Mette Mayli Albaek


They weigh nothing and take up no space in your bedroom. Americans seem to love them, which may explain why the sale of e-books increases every year several hundred percent. In fact, today one-tenth of all books bought here are e-books and in 2010, Americans spent 441.3 million dollars downloading them from a computer screen. But even when the sales of e-books in only one year have risen by 164.6 percent, the old-fashioned book will not die. And if they won’t die on their own, why do we not just kill off these dusty, old-fashioned, predecessors? Because each of these relics tells a story of its own?

Each, indeed, does that.

Whoever bought this copy of The Colossus of Maroussi in 1989 for six dollars and ninety five cents must have read it several times and brought it to difference places—at least that is what the no-longer-white cover seems to proclaim. Other telltale clues indicate that the prior owner liked coffee while reading and did not worry a page or two getting dog-eared or torn. But then something happened: Could he no longer stand the thought of the 244 page travelogue written by the famous American-German author, Henry Miller? Or maybe he died—might his children brought in all of his books for an estate sale?

However it got there, right now that very copy of The Colossus Of Maroussi is just one of twelve hundred used books on the bookshelf in the lending library Ourshelves at 998 Valencia Street in The Mission. On page two, the name “Jason Dewees” is written in capital letters that slant to the right on two separate lines tilting down a little.

The e-book simply does not provide the same opportunities for such personal interaction, says Maxine Chernoff, professor and Chair of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. “You can write your own notes in a printed book. You can highlight whatever you want. A book becomes a personal object in that way, and you cannot get the same individual feeling by downloading something on the Internet.”

Page Against the Machine

By Xpress Mag Staff


Dan Weiss, employee and event organizer of Alley Cat bookstore, talks to a customer, Feb. 28, 2012. Weiss has organized a series of events in February and planed more for March. Photo by Hang Cheng.

Written by Victor M. Rodriguez


Walking in from the busy streets of the Mission, the ambient smells penetrate the nostrils and carry a familiar coffeehouse scent. The perpetual shelves squeezed tightly together display books, from the latest to the greatest. Either by curiosity or assignment, a title is found. As the first few pages are read, a sanctuary for knowledge is once again found, free from the technology that is striking down heavy covers and bound papers.

Despite the growing trend of people relying on thin machines like iPads and e-readers to obtain readings, Kate Rosenberger comprehends that there is nothing like sitting down to turn the pages as the story progresses.

“There is a romance that comes from reading a book,” says Rosenberger, who owns four bookstores in San Francisco. “No pleasure really comes from picking up plastic as when picking up a book to sit down and read.”

Rosenberger combined her passion for reading with an interesting business endeavor about 26 years ago when she and an associate opened Phoenix Books on 24th Street in Noe Valley. Since then, three more stores now offer the same services, including its largest that resides in the Mission district, Dog Eared Books.

“The whole idea about bookstores closing has always been around,” explains Rosenberger. “But people build too much of a relationship with books for paperbacks to just disappear.”

Though she opens a bookstore every seven or so years, Rosenberger strives to appeal to different interests, like art and news, while giving the community a place to fine-tune their literacy.

Other places also see fit to move into a new location. Modern Times Bookstore, which was open on Valencia Street in the Mission for 20 years up until June of 2011, now opens its doors each morning to a loyal clientele just a few blocks southeast on 24th Street. Despite the smaller space, the premise of selling books remains the same.

“It became hard to afford the rent,” says Ruth Mahaney. “But the plan was to make sure we stay in the Mission.”

Mahaney has been a collective owner since 1973, and the decision to stay in the neighborhood serves the purpose of being part of a community that needs places like these.

“We’re trying to stay alive because just like people want books, we also help them fight for justice.”

It could mean many things, but some of the key strategies for these neighborhood stores are to offer a place for like-minded peers who seek to extend their knowledge.


Customers browse through the books in Alley Cat Bookstore on 24th street in the Mission district, Feb. 28, 2012. The bookstore is one of the four own by Kate Rosenberger. Photo by Hang Cheng.


“We normally hold different events from open mics to poetry readings,” says John Escamillo, one of the newer members of the Modern Times family. “We also support important movements such as Occupy Wall Street.”

Standing behind a glass display and greeting customers with a smile, Dan Weiss prepares a film event at Alley Cat Books, the newest of Rosenberger’s stores. Carrying a popcorn machine to the vast space behind the shelves that categorize books in French, he recounts, “Spearheading this short film night, it’s just one of many events yet to come.” Though the turnout rate is a bit small, the purpose, according to Weiss, is to build a community presence and offer their clients an “artistic hub,” a place that will also sometimes feature a band or poetry night.

With the closing of Borders, a major retailer of books that had a strong presence all over the country, one might think that bookstores everywhere will be coming down. If not now, then sometime in the near future. NPR reports that almost four hundred Borders bookstores closed last September, a mix of various factors contributing to its demise. Among those, perhaps the biggest ones are e-book and finding better prices online.

“The rise of corporate book-selling came in the 90s,” says Weiss. “But at some point, some of these corporations are bound to fold because people will find alternatives to buying it in these stores.”

Weiss ascertains that while these huge stores offer a good amount of books, they have no character and usually serve as a reference point. That relationship with the community is not built.

However, local bookstores beg to differ, and they are still fighting the good fight to preserve literacy, culture, and knowledge amid growing apathy. San Francisco is probably one of the few cities exempt from the notion of disappearing books, according to Weiss.

“The Internet has served to make more readers out of us,” he says. Thus, the attempts of the stores can be seen as Ernest Hemingway describes guts: grace under pressure.


Spice Up Your Life

By xpressmagazine

Feature by Kristina Kerley


Often times I wonder why white salt and black pepper always appear as the leads on the dinner table stage, serving as the go to accoutrement’s for just about everything edible. I’m not here to argue their place in our hearts, because let’s face it, a dish with too little salt is almost not worth eating and there truly is nothing like fresh cracked pepper. I am here to ask, do we settle when it comes to all the other spices in our cabinet?

I have come to realize that, yes, we do. The best reason I can think of is that spices, more so than any other food accessory, can be extremely daunting. Too much cayenne and your dish is inedible; being heavy handed with cinnamon will leave your mouth puckered and dry. And unlike a lot of other ingredients, with spices, a little can certainly go a long way, and inexperienced eyes aren’t the best judges. On the other hand though, there is nothing quite so visually pleasing as dark red paprika atop your morning eggs, with that amazing smoky flavor to boot, or the instant comfort of just enough nutmeg in your holiday slice of pumpkin pie.

I came to know most of my favorite spices from eating at various restaurants. I have come to love the rich thick taste curry powder brings to a soup, the fresh pop roughly chopped basil adds to any tomato sauce, and the way Star Anise brightens the body of a warm mug of Chai tea – with the beauty of the drink improved by leaps and bounds at the sight of the spice floating whole inside.


Big Brother Comes Home

By xpressmagazine

Photos by Nelson Estrada.

Written by Ashley Aires

A black television screen doesn’t need to wait for someone to turn it on before it can broadcast colorful images of soap operas or reports from the latest war. No, it’s already turned on – it’s always turned on. Through the screen, someone is sitting in a room filled from wall to wall with towering computer monitors, recording the smallest hint of sound or movement from the living room. But not even the slightest hiccup is safe from the cameras. The most minuscule eyebrow twitch can put you in jail. If you’re home, they’ll find you.

If you think your thoughts are safe, think again. The Thought Police can invade your mind if they think you’re against them. Nothing is safe. Nowhere is safe.

Sounds terrifying, right? It’s a good thing that this world exists only in a book that was written in 1949.

Or at least it did.

Legal Street Dogs

By xpressmagazine


The infamous bacon wrapped hot dog from Leo's Hot Dogs. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez.


Written by Lissette Alvarez
It is a cold Saturday night in the Mission district and the streets are quiet except the faint notes of Cumbia music that radiates from a small hot dog trailer parked in front of El Mercantile on 19th Street. The tantalizing smell of hot dogs, bacon, and onions waft through the air.
Adan Gonzalez, the vendor owner, works the stand most nights along with his wife, Lucero Muñoz Arrellano, and employee Maria Reyes. Their white aprons and light-blue gloves almost blend in with the white background of the truck.
Their bacon-wrapped hot dogs and long strands of onions cook on a gas grill and glisten under the trailer’s bright lights. The tables that flank the grill are adorned with the feminine touch of bouquets of red roses and pink lilies. On top of the tables are several bottles of condiments and toppings, including a large jar of jalapeño slices. The women grin at each other as they move the hot dogs and onions with their tongs.
“Hot dogs,” Arrellano calls out as she snaps her silver tongs in the air. “Get your hot dogs here!”
Ricardo Pernia, clad in thick, black glasses walks up to the trailer and eyes the food on the grill.

SF State Students Weigh in on Truths Behind Juice Cleanse Fad

By xpressmagazine


Aleeza Brown plays around with the all natural ingredients that will go into her juice, Feb. 19. Photo by Sam Battles

Written by Haley Brucato


Bags of fresh fruits and vegetables line the steel counter tops in a cramped college apartment. The vibrant colors provide a stark contrast to the habitual empty Seniore’s pizza boxes and abandoned Quickly’s cups usually lining the corner of the kitchen. The group of students work together in a line, and pass down dozens of tomatoes, apples, oranges, carrots and heads of broccoli methodically. One pony-tailed girl rinses at the sink, while a small, muscular male brushes the hair from his eyes and begins slicing quickly, halving a pear, chopping zucchinis and stacking up eggplants, forming a teetering tower of produce.

 A motor suddenly hums to life in the background, whirring in rotation, ready to swallow anything that gets thrown in its mouth. A young student begins shoving things in the opening, and expertly pushes everything in reach through the top. Juice slowly drips out of the spout. First red, then orange and green -The food creates a liquid rainbow. This frothy concoction will be dinner. Grumbling stomachs eagerly await the tomato shot for dessert – though their taste buds beg to differ. These five SF State students will repeat this process more than three times a day for about ten days.

Juice cleanses are all the craze right now, evident from the well publicized celebrity detoxes, and the recent growing popularity and inspiration stemming from Joe Cross’ documentary film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” in which Cross takes on a 60-day cleanse to transform his health and successfully rid himself of an impairing skin disease. With independent juice bars beginning to pop up all across the country, this fad is quickly becoming mainstream. Angela Trinh, owner of PowerSource Cafe and juice bar, has seen a recent spike in popularity of her fresh squeezed juices.

For the cleanse, fruits and vegetables will be freshly juiced multiple times a day, and replace solid food for three, five or even ten-days. And the biggest catch – no alcohol, no caffeine, no nicotine. Not exactly an easy feat for a group of college students whose bodies are accustomed to ingesting those three detriments on a regular basis.


Hack Job

By xpressmagazine


The library area of Noisebridge is where many of the lecture events take place. Photo by Gil Reigo Jr.

Written by Lauren Manary



To the members of this community, “hacking” isn’t just for girls with dragon tattoos, geeks, or Guy Fawkes-masked activists.

“It’s the out-of-the-way of looking at things,” says Mitch Altman, one of the founders of the hackerspace. “It’s not being afraid to take a radical approach. Someone who is a hacker isn’t afraid if their government makes laws, because they won’t think they’re important.”

Some hack computers, but others hack food and photography: to the members of Noisebridge, it is about challenging the fundamentals of creative projects. The physical space is impressive: 5,200 square feet broken up into several areas dedicated to one craft or another. Computer chips and hardware are littered about, colorful wires dangle from labeled drawers. In one corner, mushrooms are beginning to sprout and kombucha brews. In another, a hacker known as Rayc dons protective goggles and sparks spray around him as he sands something down.  Another hacker, Jared, ignores the weekly meeting, instead choosing to tinker on what will become a Tesla coil. Everyone around is moving, creating, or brainstorming. The sound of clicking computer keys never stops.

What is this space of creative chaos? Noisebridge and its members are part of a growing number of “hackerspaces” in the world. These spaces are meant to provide a safe place for hackers to collaborate and socialize, typically in the field of technology. At this space in particular, members offer free workshops for affiliates and the public alike. Altman gives a weekly soldering workshop on Mondays but the space offers a variety of other classes from sewing and “zine” production to German lessons.


Bare in the Bay Area

By xpressmagazine


Rich and Julie Pasco lie on their lawn chairs in their backyard of their San Jose home. The bi-coastal couple split their time between the Bay Area where Rich is the director of the Bay Area Naturalists and a nudist community near Tampa, Fla. Photo by Gil Riego Jr.

Written by Erika Maldonado


A luminous Florida sun reflects off of the lake at the Caliente Resort on a Saturday morning in April.  Rich Pasco stands next to his groomsmen, clad in matching bow ties as his wife to be, Julianne, walks barefoot down the aisle.  Draped in a veil crowned with a floral wreath, Julianne is the only person in his world.

Her three bridesmaids stand with plastered smiles as they hold their pink bouquets, floral wreaths atop their brows.  The duo’s closest friends come together in Land O’ Lakes, Florida for the clothing optional ceremony.  The couple met three years earlier at a nude resort in Los Gatos.

“I had been swimming in the pool and there was one open lounge chair right next to Julie,” says Rich. “We got to talking and she brought up her disabled niece.  There was such compassion and love in her heart and this sparkle in her eye that she got from talking about her.  I knew I needed someone like that in my life.”

The wedding invitations explained that it was fitting to pledge the couple’s union before the community that supported the growth of their love.

“When my mom got the invitation, she wrote me a five-word e-mail saying ‘I was sick.  Sick.  Sick,’” says Julie.

Holistic Healing

By xpressmagazine


Barbie Levasseur, bottom right, teaches yoga to students at the Yoga Tree in the Mission District on March 1. Photo by: Mihail Matikov

Written by Sage Kemmerley


Life can be overwhelmingly stressful. Especially in a busy city, things can happen. Traffic, spaced-out people, sometimes everything is in the way and there’s nothing to do about it. Or is there?

Ever wonder how monks really are so calm, no matter what? That calmness is attainable too, and it’s easier than one would think. Meditation and yoga focus on breathing as a way of staying in the moment. Concentrating on breathing, allows the mind to be present and not distracted by the past or the future. Acupuncture can help relieve physical and emotional symptoms and balance the body to further encourage positive health choices.

Eastern holistic practices like yoga, meditation, and acupuncture have been used as effective therapies for centuries – for everything from joint pain to depression. Holistic practices focus on how the many components of a hectic lifestyle can add up and result in stress – holistic practitioners address these issues as a whole.

Adam Burke, director of the Institute for Holistic Health Studies at San Francisco State University, says that through student surveys, he has found the majority of SFSU pupils find themselves suffering from anxiety and depression at some point during his or her time here.


Heartbreak in Sports

By xpressmagazine

Written by Martin Telleria Photo by Gil Riego Jr.
In what was proving to be a game for the ages, regulation would not be enough time to determine the outcome of the battle between two fiercely determined foes. The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants were locked in a tight defensive battle, momentum seemingly switching every other play. Miscues had been the story of the game at this point, costly mistakes keeping San Francisco from putting the game away long ago. Dropped passes, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball had plagued them throughout. It was mental errors, however, that had proved the most damaging. A mind-numbing gaffe by special teamer Kyle Williams had gifted the Giants an opportunity to get right back into the game. And get back in the game is exactly what they did. New York tied the contest and sent the game into a sudden death situation.
The tension that built during the overtime period set the tone for the rest of the night. Though the first four periods had been back and forth, the emotional swings now had been escalated even more. The defenses were reigning supreme and the offenses had completely stalled. In a game where the first team to score would win, neither could muster any sort of rally. It would take some sort of divine intervention for one squad to breakthrough. And that intervention came, in the cruelest form of déjà vu imaginable. For one player, the infamy that would result from the aftermath would be catastrophic.
The 49er’s exhausted defense had made one last stop. A key hold deep in the Giants territory that would force the road team to kick the ball away and concede good field position to San Francisco, a precious commodity at this juncture. The home crowd anxiously awaited the punt, preparing themselves for the jubilation that would result from what they believed to be their ticket to the Super Bowl. The ball was snapped, the kick went up, and was received by none other than Kyle Williams, desperate for a chance at redemption. His heart, however, was too big for his own good, visions of grandeur clouding his judgment.In an attempt to undo his previous wrong, Williams had forgotten the cardinal rule of football: ball security. The tortured star charged right into the teeth of the Giants coverage, fueled by his desire to be emancipated from his status of the goat. He merely succeeded in burying himself deeper.He was ambushed by Giants special teamer Jacquian and once again relinquished the ball to his foes, a crucial strip that would completely alter the course of the game. This miscue had gifted them the victory, the ball already in scoring range during a time where the first to score would win. The euphoria 49er fans had been experiencing prior to the fumble was quickly replaced with confusion – not quite being able to comprehend the turn events that had just occurred.

They watched in hopeless anticipation as the New York offense prepared for the crushing blow. As the comprehension set in, fans told themselves not all was lost, that the kick was not a sure thing, that a blocked kick was still a possibility. None of them actually believed it. They knew deep down that their season was over, stolen from them in an unacceptable manner. There was nothing they could do about it. The kick went up and through the uprights, closure finally coming to the game they had already known was lost. For a fan base as passionate as this one, there would be no quick fix. They were about to embark on an emotional roller-coaster of epic proportions.

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