Posts Tagged ‘Xpress Magazine’

Raiju Takes the Stage

By xpressmagazine

By Jessica Mendoza

The lights dim down in the Depot. The current band, which just performed, left the stage and the workers are setting up the equipment on the stage as they prepare for the next band to take the stage.

While the stage is being set, Vinnie Hecht, drummer and bartender at the SF State Pub, taps his sticks on the drums and practices his part while he looks at his laptop screen for the music notes. His long time friend, Bobby Carroll, is fixing his guitar and playing a couple of notes on his guitar.

“I have to warm up my voice right now” as Scott Wagner, vocalist, tells Darby Keith, guitarist, before the stage is completely set up. Max Coley, the bass player, is sitting down and talking to a few people and selling the bands t-shirts.

People are standing in front of the stage and chatting amongst themselves with beers in their hand. The crowd grows bigger and start gathering in The Depot as eagerly awaiting Raiju to come out and take the stage.

It’s Raiju’s first performance on stage together since earlier this year. “Scott and I know each other since 2006” says Nick. Scott and Nick moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. They were looking forward to create a new band. “We put on an ad on Craigslist,” says Nick about looking for musicians.

Bobby and Vinnie have been friends since the third grade. They have been playing together from middle school throughout high school.

They responded to Nick and Scott’s ad and got hold of them. To complete the entire group, they needed a bass player. Later on, Max responded to the ad and completed the band.
“We’re focusing on mystical creatures,” says Vinnie when it came to picking a name for the band. They went through a list of names. Finally, they pick “Raiju”. It pronounces “rye-joo” and it stands for a “Japanese thunder beast” according to the band. Raiju practices at a rehearsal room in the Oakland Music Complex.

“We really wanted heavy metal music that was strange and odd” as Bobby describes Raiju’s music. All together, they wanted a sound that would be “applying to us and to make it fun for listeners”, says Bobby.

Prior to the performance, there were minor technical problems with sound. Once everything is fixing, Raiju is ready to take the stage. The guys were more excited than nervous since it’s the first show.

Raiju goes on stage. Scott thanks the crowd for their patience. He assures them “It usually doesn’t take us this long to set up considering it’s our first show.”

Bobby takes the mic and says “I’m so sorry, but let’s fucking rock!”

The anticipation was over and the show begins. As Raiju plays their first song “Pride and Gluttony +Sanitation by Fire”, begins with aggressive heavy metal sound. Scott jumps off the stage. He screams from top of lungs as his voice echoes through the room. The tempo of the music is faster and faster and slow down and fast again.

While the music is playing, a man jumps out of the crowd and begins the mosh pit. Finally He bumps into the crowd and Scott as he’s singing the song. The man bash into someone and made the person spewing his beer all over the crowded floor.

The guys of Raiju created music for anyone who enjoys the sounds of explosive heavy metal rock coming from the fires of hell and leave your ears will be ringing for days.

Raiju played other songs to the audience. The show ended. Raiju thanks the crowd for the support especially Vinnie, who takes the mic and says “thank you all for showing and I see a lot of regulars from the Pub.”

Across the Universe


By Babak Haghighi

Writers find meaning in words. Musicians find it through notes, and artists through their art. Likewise, the astrophysics students who run the SFSU Observatory find meaning by looking at the night sky.

It’s a rare starry night in San Francisco—at least as seen from the rooftop of Thornton Hall. Expensive telescopes of all shapes and sizes decorate the SFSU Observatory, and red and black florescent lights surround them. Under the blacklight, orange and green chalk glows bright on a chalkboard, revealing the specifications of the telescopes. It looks like something out of a glow-in-the-dark bowling alley. The ethereal beats of Canadian band Purity Ring play from a laptop in the corner. It’s the first time Stephanie Lauber has brought music to the observatory, but it’s far from the first time she’s been there.

Lauber, a 25-year-old astrophysics student at SF State, has been running the SFSU Observatory for years. As a student with a more-than-heavy workload, she finds solace in looking out into space from the observatory.

“If I couldn’t come up here, I’d go crazy,” she says.

Her coursework requires endless equations and complex theories, but as a reward, she can look at the stars and truly understand them. Despite her impressive understanding of astrophysics, she is fascinated by the universe for one simple reason.

“Space is cool,” she says.

On a clear Wednesday night, Lauber and her fellow astrophysics classmate Dylan Pounds point the observatory’s best telescope at Jupiter. The $36,000 instrument is a 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain with a reflective lens. It stands on a $40 concrete block. Through the lens of the telescope, Lauber and Pounds look at the largest planet in the Solar System and are impressed that the expensive equipment allows them to see the planet’s stripes.

“It’s fucking incredible,” says Pounds, who hopes one day to become an astronaut. “This thing [Jupiter] is so far away, and the fact that we can see it is mind-blowing.”

Other telescopes are pointed elsewhere, and there is much to see in the sky. The stars tell tales of Greek gods and their respective myths, and Lauber and Pounds know nearly all of them.

The observatory is open to the public every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday night, as long as the weather permits. However, it doesn’t get too many visitors. Heavy clouds and light pollution make San Francisco a less-than-ideal location for stargazing, but Lauber explains that it’s not as bad as people might think.

“Yes, it’s true,” says Lauber. “We can see stars from San Francisco.”

As Lauber and Pounds prepare to close shop, the Orion Nebula appears at the horizon. As The Beatles’ “Across the Universe” plays appropriately, Lauber and Pounds track down the nebula with the telescopes. Lauber picks up the Schmidt-Cassegrain’s controller, which resembles that of an Atari controller. She moves the joystick and the telescope reacts accordingly.

“This is the most frustrating part,” she says, eager to track her favorite nebula in the universe.

Being the brilliant astrophysicist that she is, Lauber has no trouble hunting down Orion. The telescope brings out the true beauty of what might otherwise look like a typical cluster of stars.

Once the observatory closes, Lauber and Pounds have to hit the books again. Equations, formulas, and theories await them downstairs. But when they come back up tomorrow, they will use those formulas and theories to explore the universe through the lens of a telescope—one star at a time.


Nutrition in the Raw



The Juice Shop offers juices made only with ingredients from local organic farmers.

By Nicole Ellis
Photos by Samantha Benedict

The word juice means different things to different people. The “juice-heads” in Jersey aren’t the same juicers who work with Barry Bonds or Lance Armstrong. And those juicers are completely different than the juicers shopping at Whole Foods. The more common and accepted juicer is the kind that extracts nutrients from raw fruits and veggies. Not everyone who juices is a rawist, but juicing is a huge aspect to eating raw.

Beans, fruits, seaweed, sprouts, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables are among the types of foods rawist eat. Rawism, or eating raw, leaves food in its environmental state. The fruits, veggies, and grains are considered raw if they’re cooked under 115 degrees. Most people who practice eating raw stick to a vegan diet, but there’s also rawists who eat animal products. A sashimi dinner is the perfect example. Raw foodists, who eat animal products believe that eating foods above this temperature makes the food lose its nutritional value and can harm the body.

“I started this [raw food] diet because I feel like it is the only thing that makes sense in this world,” Novalee Truesdell, a raw foodist of six years, explains. “Plants grow naturally as a pure food source and yet we turn to all this processed, chemically altered nonsense that confuses and screws our poor bodies up!”

Truesdell stuck with her raw diet because she saw her body change. Her depression went away, her energy level rose and her body remains slender and lean. “People saw there is a certain glow about me that they can’t quite put their finger on,” Truesdell says.

Some commonly known benefits to eating raw include: weight management, clear skin and hair, decreased food cravings, increased energy, and mental clarity.

David Hinkle went raw for one hundred days to lose weight. “Honestly, it just seemed kind of easy to me,” Hinkle says about making the decision to swap processed food for a clean diet. “I did a raw juice fast for seventy days, then a break, then another thirty [days] for a total of one hundred and six pounds lost.”

During his fast, Hinkle consumed nothing but raw juice, regular water, and coconut water. “A key component of the success of juice fasting, and not eating, is hydration,”

Hinkle explains. He recommends drinking lots of water, up to two gallons a day, to help suppress the hunger and accelerate the weight loss process.

Hinkle and Truesdell found that juicing is the key to staying trim. “I love juicing and make a green juice every single day which I crave until I have [it],” Truesdell shared about her secret to keeping her body lean. “You can just feel the fresh, raw, liquid fruits and vegetables, seeping into your body.” She eats almost any fruit and vegetable she can get her hands on.

Page Gausman sells juices at the Juice Shop on Thursday, April 11, 2012.  The Juice Shop serves juice made only with ingredients from local organic farmers.

Page Gausman sells juices at the Juice Shop on Thursday, April 11, 2012. The Juice Shop serves juice made only with ingredients from local organic farmers.

The two things rawist need to keep an eye out for are contaminated food and low levels of certain vitamins. Food poisoning doesn’t only occur in meat, it can affect raw produce like lettuce, melon, spouts, and berries. The American Dietetic Association advises checking iron, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iodine, vitamin B-12, and protein levels to ensure they’re not too low.

The positives definitely outweigh the negatives in terms of potential benefits, according to rawists. Some people believe eating raw can cure chronic illnesses like cancer. Others think the lifestyle change can help aid problems like asthma. Truesdell has a friend who cured her own asthma, chronic fatigue, and sinusitis, just by eating raw.

Cecilia Kinzie changed her eating habits when she was twenty-two. Her health problems were causing her to become depressed, but after a conversation about raw food with a friend, Kinzie went out and bought a raw cookbook and never turned back. She’s been raw for over ten years and has never felt better. Kinzie has her own website and has written her own book, Raw Food Starter Guide, that’s downloadable for free online.

Jumpstarting a raw diet might be as easy as visiting The Juice Shop. Located on Union Street and Buchanan, The Juice Shop started out as a delivery service, but its popularity grew, allowing them to open a store in 2009 where people can visit them face-to-face. “We have a lot of people who come on a regular basis,” said Lina Gulick, co-owner of Juice Shop, “but we also have people stopping by who never experienced juicing before.”

Their juices are made on a hydraulic press, which “gently and completely extracts all of the vital nutrients in the most optimal method possible,” Gulick explains. The pure nutrients are one hundred percent organic and start at $9.

Is juicing a trend or has it always been an “in” thing? “We have definitely seen an increase in the general interest in juicing since we started,” said Gulick. Juicing has been around for over a century, but its popularity and accessibility has made it a phenomenon. “When it comes down to the basics, the benefits of juicing are so profound that people tend to stick with it.”

Some people use the raw diet as a way to lose weight, others use it as a way to rid medical problems, and some people just want to make a lifestyle change. Eating raw provides many benefits, but not all carnivores will want to dabble in the semi-strict diet. Although, it seems that once people go raw, they don’t go back.


Novalee’s Morning Pick-me-up Smoothie

Fresh or frozen fruits blended with fresh leafy greens like kale, chard, parsley or dandelion, and chia seed powder

David’s Go-to Juice

Half bunch of kale, half a cucumber, one granny smith apple, two carrots, half a lemon, and a small hunk of ginger


Sublet Survivor


For Luu, skating was essential for Sublet SF. Skating across each district requires a keen eye for every nook and cranny and connected her with the city even more // GIF created by Kenny Redublo


By Kenny Redublo
Photos by Virginia Tieman

Valencia street is alive as usual. Cyclists ride next to cars and trucks zooming by while couples walk their dogs on the sidewalks as they window shop at the local boutiques before stopping into a cafe for a coffee. It’s a typical Mission day, except for the lack of sunshine. Valerie Luu sits on the patio at Four Barrel Coffee, taking a break from work. She holds a poetry book in one hand and adjusts her hair with the other. The wind is making the day colder than it looks.

This spot is familiar for Luu. Not just Four Barrel, but the Mission itself. It’s her two blocks of comfort in the city, but they’re not her home. It’s been over a year that she’s been on the search for a place to call her home, since a breakup.

“I felt like I had two choices after the breakup: find a Craigslist situation to fall into, which was probably going to be shitty, or go on an adventure,” says Valerie Luu with a skateboard next to her.

“I chose to go on an adventure.”

Luu started Sublet SF in March 2012 after the breakup. Sublet SF is her blog and personal project, where she subleases a room in eight different neighborhoods in the course of one year. She chronicles her different experiences with the residents of the neighborhood, showcasing conversations, photos, or achievements. Her idea came about when she visited Paris a couple years ago. The city of Paris is divided into twenty different administrative districts, or arrondissements. Luu thought it would be a great idea to live in a different arrondissement for a year, but as she was driving around San Francisco after her breakup, she realized she can do that in San Francisco. She just had to do it.

“Whenever I have a creative idea, it becomes implanted in my head and I can’t get it out and I just have to do it,” says Luu.

“I’m at a point where I’m able to [move]. I’m young, I don’t have children, I don’t have an apartment, and I need a reason for adventure.”

Luu skates down Steiner Street in front of her Marina sublet // Photo: Kenny Redublo

Luu skates down Steiner Street in front of her Marina sublet // Photo: Kenny Redublo

An Educated Escape

Luu started her sublet obsession while she was in college at UC Santa Cruz. Between her junior and senior year, she didn’t want to be stuck at a job or in school. She just wanted to experience living in San Francisco. She subleased a room in a house on Scott and Fulton Street. Out the window was a view of City Hall, she was in walking distance to the parks of Lower Haight, and she fell in love with the city.

“Every chance I got, every winter break or summer break, I would come and sublet in San Francisco,” says Luu. “And that’s when I became a chronic subletter.”

When she finished college and moved out of Santa Cruz, subletting was already a part of her life and packing up and moving was commonplace.

The First Sublet

When she moved out of her ex-boyfriend’s apartment in March 2012, she asked her friend Scott to move in with her for the inaugural Sublet SF move. She dreamed of living with her friend and working on art projects together and Scott felt the same.

“We’re both dreamers,” says Luu.

The first sublet of the project was a one bedroom apartment in the Panhandle on Baker and Hayes Street. Luu’s place before the breakup was already in the Panhandle, the neighborhood that made her fall in love with the city. It’s her foundation for San Francisco.

After the Panhandle, she moved to the Marina.

When In Rome

One of Luu’s goals with Sublet SF is to absorb a neighborhood’s culture. Each neighborhood has its own type of people, landmarks, ways of life, and to Luu, it’s a way to find inspiration in the city she lives in.

“There’s studying abroad, right? Well, this is studying domestic,” says Luu.

When she moved to the Marina, a neighborhood of big houses, big boats, and big views, she ran with the culture of the neighborhood, literally.

Marina Green

Marina Green

“Everyone’s running [in the Marina]! Everyone is in running pants!” says Luu. “So I went home, put some on, and ran six miles in the rain. It was so epic.”

She made the goal of running 100 miles during her time in the Marina. Setting this goal one week into living in the neighborhood, she had three weeks to achieve this feat, in which she did, complete with a celebratory donut.

“I’m not a runner by any means,” says Luu.

“Exercise makes me a little sad.”

Urban Inspiration

According to Luu, people living in San Francisco have their “two blocks of comfort.” As she sits on Valencia, she knows this is her comfort zone.

“My life is here, but it gets monotonous and I lose inspiration,” says Luu.

In Chinatown, Luu found inspiration, and the flu.

She shared a bed with a friend and her friend’s cat for two months while having the flu. She might be allergic to cats now.

Maybe it was the neighborhood seen through a fever dream but Luu saw Chinatown as this different entity and hub for urban living.

Chinatown has a grittier, more New York like, visual with more urban commercial streets, grocery stores, and merchants, all with apartments stacked right on top.

“That’s living in Chinatown! Stacks on stacks!” says Luu.

She experienced different people, lifestyles, aesthetics all in one place since Chinatown borders the neighborhoods of North Beach, Russian Hill, and the Financial District.

“Being around so many lifestyles reminded me that I’m in a fantastic city with a lot of different people because it’s easy to get stuck in the same two blocks in the city,” says Luu.

“One of the main goals of this project is to have myself leave my ‘two blocks of comfort’ and see what other people’s ‘two blocks’ are like and hopefully inspire other people to go check out Chinatown and North Beach.”

Subletter’s Rules of the Road

Luu’s parameter for a new place is the monthly price has to be less than $800.

“That’s the goal,” says Luu.

According to the San Francisco Tenants Union, the annual allowable rent increase is 1.9% as of March 1, 2012 compared to last year’s 0.5%. Rental prices from show properties in Bayview cost more than SoMa. The rental landscape has changed.

Bernal Heights Park

Bernal Heights Park

“People say rent is expensive in San Francisco and it is. It’s super scary and I think about it all the time because I’m constantly moving,” says Luu.

“Everyone is afraid of leaving their rent controlled apartments, but there are still cheap rooms [out there] and my hope is that [they] will still exist in some way. Friends will pass it along to friends and friends of friends.”

As a chronic Craigslist subletter, Luu’s tip to find a room in San Francisco is to stand out among the hundreds applying.

“Sell yourself.”

Luu looks for rooms in houses since finding a one bedroom sublet is out of her budget. The sublet in the Marina was the only place to break the $800 rule, with the minimum rent of the neighborhood being at least $1200.

With each move, she is heading toward her ideal amount of possessions. She still has more stuff than she wants. One item includes a box of her journals ranging from the third grade. Paper things are hard to tear away from.

“The ideal is to have a backpack, a suitcase, a bag, my bike, and my skateboard,” says Luu.

“I would love to move on a MUNI!”

Barely Bernal

Luu’s current neighborhood is Bernal Heights. Her experience so far: being domestic.

She calls her room the “Hobbit room.” It’s an attic room with two camping sleeping pads and a comforter on top, decorated with Christmas lights, with some company from the house dog.

Being domestic for Luu in Bernal Heights includes buying groceries at the Farmer’s Market on the weekend, cooking at home, and going home at proper hours (before 2 A.M,). The lack of bars around the neighborhood help reduce her late nights.

Her Bernal room is also her first room by herself, which is a much needed break.

“I didn’t realize there was going to be some unexpected psychological consequences to this project. Displacement, no feeling of home or security… no privacy, which I thought I was fine with.”

Never Stay Stagnant

There are two neighborhoods left in the project: Tenderloin and North Beach. Though Luu set out to live in eight neighborhoods throughout the year, there’s no telling if she’ll stop there.

“There’s a part of me that could continue this, like go to Bayview or Laurel Heights, whatever that means, Ingleside, Glen Park. What are these neighborhoods? I have no idea!” says Luu, laughing.

“But who knows? Who knows how I’ll feel after I finish these last two neighborhoods?”

Luu’s home is Bernal Heights for now, but with this project, San Francisco is becoming her home more and more. She skates around the city, learning its literal nooks and crannies, and reminisces on the places she’s lived in. Bernal Heights is the “neighborhood where you can see all neighborhoods” and she sees the different chapters of her life from the hill.

“I have faith that by the last sublet, I will find the ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ and maybe I’ll know what neighborhood I want to settle in,” says Luu.

“Maybe I’ll know who I am.”

The changes to the neighborhood she sees during this personal journey reminds her of what her ex-boyfriend’s teacher told him: “Life is all about having homes or creating homes, and then getting kicked out of them, repeatedly.”

“The universe will always kick you in the ass so you can grow,” says Luu. “Never stay stagnant.”

Little Libraries with a Big Message


By Nicole Ellis
Photos by Jessica Worthington

It’s a birdfeeder! It’s a mailbox! No, it’s a library!

Walking past Kittredge School on 25th Avenue and Lake Street in the Richmond District sits a wooden box that measures about twenty-three inches wide and eighteen inches high. The rustic looking box is nestled in the corner of the school’s front steps and holds books that have been donated by the students’ parents and community members. This contraption is more then just a box full of books; it’s a library.

People in cities around the nation are building small libraries and mounting them in their yards, schools, and neighborhoods. Each Little Free Library is unique. There’s no rules or restrictions when building a library. A San Francisco hippie might want to paint theirs rainbow. A farmer in Georgia might want to recreate a barn look by painting the library red, distressing the wood, and adding a white trim. The options are endless.

Like the libraries themselves, the books can be just as eccentric. “We suggest that people donate books that have inspired them, says Smitty, a parent of a Kittredge student who donated the library. “Books you want other people to read because you loved it so much and it is nice when someone leaves a note attached telling why the book was special to them.” The concept is easy— take a book, leave a book. Donations are welcome, but unlike a city owned library, you don’t have to return the book if you fall it love with it. And like the name says, it’s free!
Out of the thousands of Little Free Libraries around the world, San Francisco has only one listed on the Little Free Library’s online map— Kittredge’s.

Little Free Library began in 2009 as a non-profit by a Wisconsin organization called SustainAbility. The concept of creating an earth friendly community shared library was started by two entrepreneurs, Todd Bol and Rick Brooks. Bol and Brooks’ creation has inspired over five thousand Little Free Libraries in thirty-six countries.

Bol was the first to build a little library. In May of 2009, Bol and his wife had a garage sale and he noticed his customers’ excitement when they saw the little library. “They talked to it like it was a brand new puppy and I realized it was something very special,” says Bol. His mission of fusing literacy and community has made its way to the Bay Area.

Buying a library is simple. “I bought it online from the Little Free Library website,” says Smitty. “They fused together two old and weathered cranberry crates from the 1950s and then added a swinging door.” The libraries can be ordered online and range from $250 to $630. Ordering the structures online isn’t the only option. Little Free Library promotes creativity. Their website has instructions on how to build a library from scratch. Those guidelines are also up to interpretation but they do offer general principles to build by: use recycled materials if possible, build the library to last, make it safe, make sure the sign is visible, and don’t be scared to make it funky and different.

“In the equation, it should be reduce, reuse, repurpose, and then finally recycle,” says Bol. “Recycling should be the last of the things. We’re not one hundred percent perfect, but we certainly make a lot of movement toward that.”

A local Little Free Library that’s missed the map’s radar is located at a residence on Sutter Street in the Lower Pacific Heights district. Bol believes this library is one of about four hundred libraries in San Francisco that haven’t been registered online. Having the libraries appear on the Little Free Libraries map will pinpoint the location of each box in every neighborhood. “We’ve noticed it opens up neighborhoods and gets people to talk,” says Bol.

Little Free Libraries is a creative way to bring communities together. “A good friend of mine says Facebook has demonstrated how we need something, how we need to connect and network,” Bol says. “But what we really want to do network wise is we want to connect face-to-face and Little Free Library is Facebook with a face.”

How to Spring Forward in Style

By xpressmagazine



By Melissa Landeros
Photos by Erica Marquez

Embellishments, patterns, colors, collars, and cutouts so many trends, so little time in between the next wave of trends. So before spring is over lets indulge in what is current now.

Just about every article of clothing this season has an added piece of hardware in the form of spikes, studs, sequins and or beading. Spikes and studs and edge to an outfit while sequins and beading take an outfit from drab to fab.



Another huge trend this spring are collars. Take note regular Polo shirts are not making the cut. Some blouses come with collars that have lots of detail, while others are minimal and still chic. There are also collars sold separately, serving as necklaces but managing to look like they are part of a shirt. Store’s like H&M, Forever 21, and Anthropologie sell great collar necklaces that really make an outfit make pop.

Patterns are also a key trend popping up on just about everything from shirts, jackets, and dresses, to pants. Floral print, chevron print and stripes are just a few patterns that work for guys and girls. While camouflage print is a bold trend for guys this season.

Keep in mind mixing patterns is a do any season, but to make it work both patterns need to be within the same color palette. Katie Koho another SFSU student says, “I love floral jumpers they are fun, practical, and comfortable.”


Lace is another huge trend appearing. It is very delicate and offers a hint of sweetness to one’s outfit. However, be advised that too much lace can look bridal, so keep it minimal.

Macy Williams modeling "pop of color".

Macy Williams modeling “pop of color”

Color blocking is still a do; it has been spilling over from season to season. Clothing can be bought that is already color blocked or one can create the illusion of color blocking. Stick to 2 or 3 complementary colors, include a neutral, and use separates.

This spring it is all about color. Although black and white are classic, there are numerous colors to try. One should incorporate the color emerald with either accessories or key pieces like a blazer or blouse. Emerald is the color of the year, trending alongside it is dusk blue, lemon zest, poppy red, and nectarine. These colors work for both guys and girls.

This season cutouts are also trending, and one can easily add cut outs to almost any garment or buy garments with cutouts. Wardrobe pieces that work best for cutout work are plain shirts and dresses. If wanting to add cutouts take a marker and draw the shape onto the garment, preferably use fabric scissors which can be bought at Joann’s fabric and craft store, to continue the process.

Bryan Vo

Bryan Vo

Blazers and jackets are always stylish and trending. One just needs to know how to wear it and combine it with other pieces. By adding a sleek fitted blazer it can take an outfit from daywear to night wear. Either pair the blazer with clean buttoned down shirt to add sophistication or a plain colored t-shirt to keep the outfit casual. As for a jacket it can add edge to an outfit whether it be for a guy or girl.

SFSU student Christ Vito says, “I like to stick to long sleeve collared shirts and a light-weight coat or blazer.”

Jessica Cisneros, modeling elbow patches.

Jessica Cisneros, modeling elbow patches.

Sweaters and cardigans with elbow patches are also a do this spring. The simple detail really livens up either of the two. A number of clothing stores sell these type of cardigans/sweaters, and anyone can pull it off. Or consider adding elbow patches to an old sweater or cardigan to create a new piece that is worthy of wearing again.

Katie Koho, modeling print.

Katie Koho, modeling print.

One of the perks about it being spring is that it is warmer outside, which means dresses and skirts are fair game. The skirts and dresses that are trending are not ordinary garments. The trend features high-low dresses and skirts that are short in the front and long in the back. Even though it is spring that does not mean to disregard using scarves. Lightweight, colorful, and printed scarves are still acceptable for this season.

It is also the time to put away the boots and bring out the wedges, sandals, and slippers better known as smoking slippers. While each style works for guys and girls, it would be best to leave the wedges for just the girls. One of the best places to shop for this type of footwear is Aldo shoes.


Chris Vito

That concludes this year’s spring trends. Always keep in mind that a stylish outfit takes a few key pieces and time to put together. Guys remember keep everything simple and stick to one bold item, and girls have fun with your outfits.

Drag Queens on Ice



Mutha Chucka poses back stage before her performance to "Santa Baby" in the Drag Queens on Ice show.

Mutha Chucka poses back stage before her performance to “Santa Baby” in the Drag Queens on Ice show.

Words: Kelly Leslie
Photos: Melissa Burman

Kim Chichi dazzles hundreds of people in Union Square, with her A-line cut, fire engine-red hair, and matching painted lips. Dressed in an all-black, glimmering gown, she confidently moves her slim body to the beat of 2009’s hit song by Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”. Always on point, and never missing a mark, it is obvious that she has performed a time or two in her life. This is only the beginning of the show, and the crowd is already going wild.

Big hair, perfect manicures and twinkling, flashy outfits from head to toe set the scene… the drag queens, and kings of San Francisco hit the stage once again, but this time they’ve traded in their heels for skates. Families from all over the city have come to see them perform at this year’s show, making it the most memorable, annual “Drag Queens on Ice”, since the event started three years ago.
“Every city has drag queens, and every city has ice skating rinks,” says Donna Sachet, who narrated the event as this year’s MC. “Only in San Francisco will you see them put together.”

Naughty Lee Portman elegantly skates to a Black Swan number as part of Drag Queens on Ice in San Francisco's Union Square, Dec. 6, 2012.

Naughty Lee Portman elegantly skates to a Black Swan number as part of Drag Queens on Ice in San Francisco’s Union Square, Dec. 6, 2012.

The event, sponsored by Alaska Airlines and hosted by the Safeway ice rink in Union Square, was originally started for fun, but has become a great opportunity for the LGBTQ community to be visible within the community, according to Mutha Chucka, who performed as “Mrs. Santa Clause” at the show.  She wore a red dress and carried a black fur coat behind her as she lip-synced a version of “Santa Baby” to the crowd. “We’ve got the professional hockey team skating with drag queens,” she says. “Where else does that happen but in SF?”

It is true that the San Francisco Bulls professional hockey team also made an appearance at the event, and joined the drag queens and kings for a meet and greet on the ice.  Dressed in their signature colors, black and orange, they skated with people of all ages from the city.
“It’s a little more of a liberal atmosphere than my home [in Canada], but we want to help and support different cultures,” says Kris Belan, who plays for the bulls.

“Everyone here is very supportive,” says Ian Catindig, also known as miss Kim Chichi, who only had five days to prepare his routine.  “Everyone [here] just wants to watch and have a good time.  As a performer you want to give that to them.”

Catindig has been singing and dancing for fifteen years and ice skating for eleven, but this is the first time he has ever participated in a drag show, but it may not be his last.  “The energy of the crowd… ahh oh my god, I want to do it again!” he says.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence visited the VIP tent at Drag Queens on Ice.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence visited the VIP tent at Drag Queens on Ice.

Filled with holiday treats and top hits music, it was a night to be remembered by all, but perhaps the most memorable part about it was seeing all of the families engaging with the drag queens and kings, according to Mary Chirichella, who performed to a Justin Bieber mashup as Mary Minajet Trois.  “It’s great visibility for the LGBTQIQ community to be out in the middle of Union Square with a bunch of families,” says Chirichella.  “It’s important to get out and support.”


Haight for the Holidays


Words & Photos: Babak Haghighi

Money. Power. Free beer. These are the things that drive the human life force, the latter of which was in no short supply at the Lower Haight Holiday Art Walk. “Happy Holidays” is damn right.

Spirits were high, both in terms of mood and alcohol, at this makeshift block party. Free beer, free wine, free live music, free live art, and free good times. The handful of blocks that comprise the Lower Haight turned into the ultimate neighborhood holiday party on the first Friday of December. Shops, restaurants, and bars all had special events to celebrate the holiday season. Many boutiques invited people in for complimentary drinks, as long as they also enjoyed live DJs and local art. Idle Hand, a tattoo parlor, offered “get-what-you-get” tattoos for $60. Burger shops gave patrons free munchies. Every local business seemed to have something special going on. Some businesses took their parties to the streets with live music and art shows. Each store threw its own party, but it brought the neighborhood together in a very special way.

D-Structure, a clothing boutique and art gallery, is one of the hot spots of the Art Walk. The place is packed. DJ Oli spins vinyl upstairs while guests enjoy the showcase of new local art downstairs while sipping on free booze. Others bring their own booze. It’s like a house party, only cooler. D-Structure owner Devon Chulick mingles with the crowd as he enjoys his own party, perhaps the most popular on the block. Next door, a folk band plays some tunes on the sidewalk in front of their apartment. The crowd dances accordingly.

San Francisco State University student Wesley Deimling arrives at Lower Haight. This night isn’t formal by any means, but it’s one hell of an introduction to one of San Francisco’s hippest neighborhoods. Deimling grabs a six-pack from the local grocer and hits the streets.

“The only thing I didn’t like about the event is that I didn’t show up earlier,” says Deimling.

Deimling arrived at Lower Haight at around 10 p.m., towards the end of the Art Walk, which started at 6 p.m. Although things were supposedly “dying down,” the party was still in full effect. Shops stayed open late and there were plenty of after parties.

“The vibe felt a lot like a music festival,” says Deimling, “except a lot less expensive and in a cooler location. Each shop was its own stage, and each piece of art was its own song.”

Various shops’ walls were covered with local art of all styles, from oil paintings to stencil art to photographs, and everything in between. In all of these shops and on the street, everyone seems to have beverages in their hands and smiles on their faces.

Beer in hand, Deimling walks into P-Kok. On a regular day, P-Kok is a quirky fashion boutique. On this night, it’s a dark-room art show turned dance party. To the left of the entrance, a plastic table holds an abundance of beer, wine, and liquor for all to enjoy in typical house party fashion. A DJ spins her favorite beats in the back while people dance their feet off in the middle. Nearby, local artist John Benko puts finishing touches on a fresh painting that Deimling can only describe as a “panda on acid.” Benko insists it’s a polar bear. His art is displayed all over P-Kok’s walls. Impressed by Benko’s art, a man asks him to paint his face, to which Benko kindly agrees, as he did to many others earlier. “Do you accept tips?” the man asks. “Yeah sure,” laughs Benko. “I’d be glad to take your money,” he says as he pockets a lone dollar bill.

Nearby, a Seattle Seahawks fan does the unthinkable and shows his face in division rival 49ers territory. This sparks a heated but friendly debate between him and a Niner-loyal local. They flash each other with their team’s respective swag before realizing that they were both here for the same reason—to have a good time.

“There was a real sense of togetherness that this city doesn’t seem to ease up on,” says Deimling about the event. “It was easy to forget that we were walking along a busy San Francisco street and not some sort of eccentric museum grand opening.”

A few doors down, Nickies bar and restaurant holds the official Lower Haight Holiday Art Walk after-party, but it pales in comparison to the party at P-Kok. Regardless of the venue, the Art Walk provides good vibes to anybody looking for them.

Lower Haight holds similar events throughout the year, but the standouts are the Summer Art Walk and the Holiday Art Walk. These cherished traditions shouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

“There’s nothing better than free drinks,” says Deimling. “Except when accompanied with free music, great people, and amazing art.”

It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate the holidays.

Artist Profile: Before the Brave


Words: Babak Haghighi
Photo: Cassie Palmer

The quintet takes the stage. The lights dim. The music begins. The sea of beanies that makes up the crowd starts to create waves as heads begin to bob. Jason Stevens’ powerful voice rips through the room and the voyage begins.

Stevens is the frontman, accompanied by Kyle Teese on drums, Nick Morawiecki on electric guitar and piano, Steven Binnquist on bass, and Beth Garber providing backup vocals as she plays the organ. Together, they are Before the Brave, an up-and-coming indie-folk band from San Francisco, and they take the audience on a journey of vast sound and emotion.

The band recently released their first EP, Great Spirit, a milestone that they celebrated by throwing a release party at the Barrel House, a hidden gem of a venue buried deep in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood.

Among the crowd, but without a beanie, is Spencer Haar, an San Francisco  State University student and fan of the band. He came for the music, but stayed for the free beer and cookies.

“I honestly think that Before the Brave makes great music and has the potential to pursue great things in the future,” says Haar, who is experiencing his second Before the Brave show. “Their sound is just generally appealing.”

What that sound is exactly is another matter entirely.

“The thing that I like so much is that our music doesn’t neatly fit into any one genre or sound,” says Teese, an S.F. State student and drummer for Before the Brave. “I might generally describe our music as folk-rock, but it doesn’t capture the band completely either. I hear traces of the Avett Brothers and Head and the Heart in our music. But then we also sound like Arcade Fire at times, or Ray Lamontagne, or even Ryan Adams in more folky songs like ‘Holy River.’”

The dynamic on-stage presence of this mostly-bearded group of San Francisco residents is not characterized by energetic stage moves or gimmicky crowd pleasers. Rather, the music, as well as the passion the music is seeded in, speaks for itself. The acoustic riffs range in style, which the rest of the instruments complement accordingly. Catchy folk-rock anthems are followed by sentimental ballads, upbeat blues tunes, and everything in between. The music is alternative and honest, and the audience expects the unexpected in a show full of musical surprises, all of which are met with success.

“Before the Brave is not the kind of band that is going to cause a riot,” says Haar. “But their shows can be equally exciting as those of higher energy bands because their music and their performance creates a lot of tension. It’s almost meditative in a sense.”

It is clear that the band emphasizes the importance of a truly well-crafted song. These young musicians are not here to show off their chops on their respective instruments. Instead, they focus on creating engaging melodies and crafting a cohesive musical experience. Every person, every instrument, every sound is there for a reason, and together the pieces fit together perfectly. The only thing that could be argued to stand out on its own is Stevens’ voice, but this is due only to the sheer power of his vocals. Stevens sports a set of vocal cords that would put a majority of successful vocalists to shame. His harsh, deep voice aims for impressive notes and never misses. His lyrical belts are both soulful and enchanting. Depending on the song, his leading vocals can either soothe or excite.

Garber’s background vocals only make things better. Her subtle yet profound vocal presence goes a long way in supporting Stevens’ dominant voice. Garber’s soft vocal touch adds an exciting element of on-target harmonies. Before the Brave’s lyrical prowess truly stands in a league of its own. But this doesn’t detract from the band’s overall sound, nor does it steal the spotlight away from other members of the band. It is just one of several parts that makes Before the Brave’s unique sound the endearing entity that it is.

As the band prepares to wrap up its performance at the Barrel House, Stevens thanks the audience for coming out before leading into a crowd-pleasing encore of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.” “This amazing city has brought us all together for a reason,” he says to the crowd.

The band members met each other at RealitySF, a church in the Castro.

“Our songs express different aspects of what it has been like for each of us to live as followers of Jesus here in San Francisco,” says Teese. Lyrical themes include reconciliation and looking for hope amidst suffering, while others lyrics deal with the inward struggle involving purpose and meaning of life. “And other songs are just about joy. Plain and simple, they’re celebrations of the lives we’ve been given.”

The band as it is today, however, formed years after the members met at RealitySF.

“The band started in a bedroom, actually,” says Teese.

He and Stevens were roommates for two years, during which time they jammed casually and wrote songs. “From there, Jason [Stevens] met Nick [Morawiecki] through work and the three of us began to play together,” says Teese. “It took another year or so before Steve [Binnquist] and Beth [Garber] joined us. It wasn’t until last Spring that all the pieces really came together.”

Since the band’s formation in 2011, Before the Brave has made a name for itself thanks to consistent practicing and playing shows. “Those two things are essential in creating a polished live show and developing a following,” says Teese. When the band was away from the music, however, they looked to social media to expand their audience. “Facebok, Twitter, and Instagram are simply the best way to communicate today,” explains Teese. “So that has been essential.”

As a result, Before the Brave has gained a well-deserved following, which has contributed greatly to the atmosphere of their shows.

“The vibe at our shows has been so incredible,” says Teese. “So many of our fans sing along throughout the set, which is probably the coolest feeling ever for a musician. There’s a definite ebb and flow of energy throughout our set, which gives the audience such a variety of experiences. It’s almost cinematic.”

It’s been an undoubtedly great year for Before the Brave. Great Spirit is now available for download on iTunes and can be streamed through Spotify. But the up-and-coming band has high hopes for the future.

“It’s a pretty exciting time for us,” says Teese.

Before the Brave’s 2013 plans include a tour the West Coast during the summer, and the band has already been invited to play at the South by Southwest Conferences and Festivals in Austin, Texas in March.


Hipster Holiday Gifts for Under $10


Words: Barbara Szabo

1. Amoeba Records

Amoeba Records has an entire section with discounted vinyl, with records for as little as $1. That means you could buy your favorite hipster as many as ten records! (Amoeba Records, $1 and up).

2. Academy of Sciences

Academy of Sciences holds an event called Night Life Thursday nights. There is usually a band or DJ that performs throughout the night, as well as a bar, and some weeks focus on a theme. For example, earlier this year, a Night Life was devoted to all things bacon: vendors from around the city served bacon treats, there were scientific illustrations of pigs for viewing, and of course a vegan pig roast. Hipsters love bacon and veganism. (Academy of Sciences, Admission is $10 for members and $12 for everyone else)

3. Finger Tattoos

Cameras, black-framed glasses and mustaches are universal symbols of hipsterism. Make those into tiny, temporary finger tattoos and you have the perfect hipster gift. (Therapy, $8)

4. Hip Book Selection

Hipsters love reading books, especially works of writers such as Jack Kerouac or ironic books like “Understanding Rap: Explanations of Confusing Rap Lyrics You and Your Grandma Can Understand.” Vinyl Coffee and Wine bar has an entire corner dedicated to books from Green Apple for cheap. (Vinyl Coffee and Wine bar, $5 and up)

5. Refreshing Beverages

Pabst Blue Ribbon on ice: It’s not just a Lana Del Rey lyric, but also a of hipster lifestyle. (Fred’s Liquor Store, 12 pack: $7.99)

6. Printed Goods

Taylor Reid and Erin Fong are two local San Franciscans who recently opened a studio called Western Editions. They design and create printed goods, such as fun cards to give or mail out during the holiday season. (, $5 and up)

7. Penguin Socks

Hipsters are cool all-year-round, but during winter they literally get cool. What better way to warm their feet than with penguin socks with grippers on the bottom? (SFSU Bookstore, $10)

8. A New Ornament Style

Back in June, The Head and the Heart played three sold-out shows at The Fillmore. They looked good on stage, and their faces look just as good on an ornament. (, $10)

9. Cool Nails!

Nail art is really trendy among hipsters these days. These jeweled stick-on nails are easy to put on and look really good when holding a PBR. (Lucky Supermarket, $6.99)

10. Mustaches

Put a black mustache on a white mug, and there’s really nothing more to say about that. (Urban Outfitters, $8)

View locations: 10 hipster holiday gift ideas under $10 in a larger map

Alternative Medicine


Tanner Anderson, 19, and Kenneth Malone, 26, met at Igzactly 420 where they often run into each other on Monday mornings before Malone goes to classes at Academy of Art downtown. This week he is preparing for finals. Dec. 17, 2012.

Tanner Anderson, 19, and Kenneth Malone, 26, met at Igzactly 420 where they often run into each other on Monday mornings before Malone goes to classes at Academy of Art downtown. Dec. 17, 2012.

Words: Emily Gadd
Photos: Tearsa Joy Hammock

Right on the edge of the Financial District in San Francisco is a small store that sells medicine for all kinds of ailments like insomnia, chronic pain, psoriasis, and depression to name a few. When you enter the store it is nicely furnished, with many lounge areas for its patrons to hang out at; the walls are painted a light green and there are large aquariums filled with Koi fish sporadically around the room.


Igzactly420 is a medical marijuana dispensary; it opened in 2009 and since then has been helping a clientele of all different ages with all sorts of different problems.

Igor Khavin is one of the owners of Igzactly 420, he used cannabis recreationally since the age of 15. In 2004 he broke his back, and was prescribed a lot of strong painkillers like oxycontin by his doctors. His injury left him in a lot of pain, but the painkillers that the doctors gave him kept him from doing much of anything. “I was basically a heroin addict,” Khavin said. He began using cannabis medicinally and he was finally given relief from his pain, but was still able to lead a functioning life.

"Jack the Ripper" up close and personal under a lighted magnifying glass. Though it is more difficult to determine the difference between indica leaves and sativa leaves once they are in the dried and cured form of buds, indica buds have the tendency to being denser and darker while sativa buds are more light and airy. This selection is a hybrid of both types. Dec. 17, 2012.

“Jack the Ripper” up close and personal under a lighted magnifying glass. Though it is more difficult to determine the difference between indica leaves and sativa leaves once they are in the dried and cured form of buds, indica buds have the tendency to being denser and darker while sativa buds are more light and airy. This selection is a hybrid of both types. Dec. 17, 2012.

Khavin is only one of many Americans who feel that they are not getting the help they need from the “traditional” types of medicine. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans spent $234.1 billion on prescription drugs, up six times from 1990, when Americans only spent $40.3 billion. Illness from prescription drugs cost Americans about $289 annually.

Another study estimates 2.2 million adverse effects to prescribed drugs while still in the hospital, and 106,000 people die annually from these side effects, costing about $12 billion. Dr. Richard Besser from the CDC estimated that 20 million antibiotic prescriptions were entirely unnecessary. In 2003 he believes it is close to the tens of millions.

Marijuana is still very controversial for medicinal use most likely because of all the different laws that have been passed trying to control it. In 1906 cannabis was officially labeled a poison and the government started regulating it. In the mid-1930s the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act helped tighten regulation on cannabis as a drug.

In 1936 the film Reefer Madness was released , showing wayward teens smoking marijuana and then committing suicide, killing people, or just losing their minds. The makers of the film hoped to frighten parents enough that they would ‘educate’ their children on the ‘extreme’ dangers of marijuana.

According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 cannabis is a Schedule I drug, meaning it shouldn’t be used for medicinal purposes and users could easily begin abusing the drug.

This past November in the 2012 election Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize possession and use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

Khavin thinks that the public’s attitude towards marijuana is slowly changing because people are no longer paying attention to propaganda.

He enjoys running a dispensary in California, and San Francisco is one of the easiest cities in California to run these types of business. There are a lot of conflicting laws that regulate medicinal marijuana in the United States which make it very difficult on dispensary owners.

Although there are still some hard parts about running a dispensary, they aren’t allowed to write off anything as a business expense and because of the strict possession laws there is no such thing as a legal way to grow marijuana in large enough stock to supply a business. In order to supply their patients with their medication Igzactly420 must depend on other patients to supply for them. Khavin says it makes the store “for patients by patients.”

Medical Marijuana cardholders are allowed to hold half of a pound of marijuana on them at a time. They bring it in and are reimbursed for their cannabis. Khavin says that without a large network like theirs, it becomes very difficult for a dispensary to survive.

Igzactly420 set up their store to create a comfortable and social environment for patients. They wanted to avoid an “in and out” place and a “check cashing” environment. The store is a smoke-free facility, so when patients take their medicine in the store, they mainly do it by using vaporizers that are set up around the rooms among the fish tanks and couches.

Medicinal marijuana patient, Kenneth Malone, 26, utilizes the vaporizer in a lounge at Igzactly 420, Dec. 17, 2012.

Medicinal marijuana patient, Kenneth Malone, 26, utilizes the vaporizer in a lounge at Igzactly 420, Dec. 17, 2012.

There are no video games or anything that would keep patients from mingling. Khavin really enjoys talking to other patients because he learns things from them all the time, and he wants other people to have that experience as well.

Igzactly420 also offers other alternative medicines for their patients like acutonics, otherwise known as tuning forks that, when hit, give off vibrations that re-align a patient’s energies. They also have support groups for veterans, and bicycle league for all of their members.

The Power of Massage

Dominque Paillet is a licensed massage therapist and an acutonics practitioner. She currently works at the franchise massage clinic Massage Envy. “As a massage therapist I do my sessions according to my clients’ needs using my tool box.” Paillet said. Her toolbox includes deep tissue techniques, Swedish massage, trigger points, acupressure, myofascial release, cranial sacral, and Reiki to name a few.

“To treat my clients, I use my intuitive abilities,” Paillat explains. “ [by] evaluating [their] posture, mood and emotional state.”

Reiki is the first technique she learned, which is a Japanese form of healing that believes healing energy can be pushed into another person from special hand positions. Paillat describes the sessions as “really relaxing.”

At the end of each session Paillat likes to incorporate stretches and exercises she has learned from her Tai-Chi, Yoga, and Qi-Gong classes.

Although she can’t give out any prescriptions as a massage therapist she has a bit more freedom when she is working with Acutonics.

Paillet describes Acutonics as, “a form of acupuncture [without] needles [that uses] tuning forks scientifically calibrated upon the velocity of the planets…Acutonics is a complex system combining sound healing, oriental medicine, the Tao of Astrology and science-based astronomy.”

The Kairos Institute of Sound Healing’s website further explains that acutonics uses the same pressure points that acupuncture and acupressure use “to access the body’s Meridian and Chakra energy systems.”

Donna Carey created acutonics while she worked at an acupuncture college sixteen years ago. The Kairos Institute estimates that there are hundreds of practitioners and over 50 instructors.

She places her tuning forks on the same places on the body where acupuncturists put their needles.

To get the certification she currently has, Paillet completed a two-year special training in Berkeley. She is currently writing a thesis to obtain a higher certification. Some examples of classes that is taking right now are “Energetics, Points and Meridians”, “Soundscapes for a Natural Facelift” and “Harmonic Pathologies” where she learned how to treat a wide range of illnesses from the common cold to lupus.

As an acutonics practitioner she can give a lot of medical treatments. Most of which are caused, she believes, by imbalances in the body. Colds, viruses, high blood pressure, depression, and fibromyalgia are just a few of the ailments that her treatments can cure.

“I have a certification in essential oils which are so powerful when combined with Acutonics and I can prescribe in that case the appropriate essential oil,” explains Paillet.

According to Paillet, essential oils were mankind’s first medicine. “Essential oils are the volatile liquids that are distilled from plants, including their respective parts such as seeds, bark, leaves, stem, roots, flowers, and fruit,” she said. “Essential oils have different electrical frequencies affecting the level of health and have different medicinal and curative effects on different ailments.”

Paillet has had patients who have seen a lot of results from her Acutonics work. They tell her that they believe what she does is magic, but she assures them it’s just from completing the proper training.


Albert Cortez has been a massage therapist for seven years. He was 22-years-old when he began studying massage therapy, he enjoyed doing it but he was looking for something new to do.

Cortez hurt his back while break dancing and was having trouble getting rid of the pain. He met an acupuncturist in Florida and decided to see if acupuncture could help him.

“One needle and the pain was gone,” said Cortez. He was inspired by this encounter to begin pursuing acupuncture. As a student, he met his wife and they eventually opened up a clinic together.

“Acupuncture is for everyone.” Cortez says. “It’s new but it’s old. It’s been out for 30,000 years but it’s new to us because we grew up with western medicine.”

When Cortez explains how acupuncture works to other people he is always trying to “add a western spin” to his descriptions. He knows that “the chi talk” turn people off of treatments like acupuncture. “They don’t believe in chi, when they try it, it’s magic.” he said.

Cortez would best describe acupuncture as preventative medicine. “Headaches can come from many places. When the elements enter your body it changes you chemical balance.” He explains. This is very different from the western medicine way of teaching. “In western medicine a headache is a headache, you would just take an ibuprofen.” But in the theory that goes with acupuncture your stomach could be giving you your headache, or really any other part of your body. Herbs are also a very important of acupuncture, because “they are natural and not synthetic,” Cortez says.

To become an acupuncturist you have to go through what Cortez describes as a very rigorous training because they are considered primary health care providers, it took a long time to get this way.

According to the California government’s acupuncture board website people who practiced acupuncture were once prosecuted, but the practitioner and the patients that really believed in it eventually convinced the government to protect the people that were interested in using acupuncture.

In 1972 acupuncture was only allowed under the supervision of licensed doctor’s for research purposes. A few years later in 1975 acupuncturists were allowed to take patients as long as a licensed doctor had recommended them. By 1978 acupuncturists were given the ability to be primary health care providers meaning that they could take patients whenever they wanted to without waiting for referral from other medical professionals.

When acupuncture students begin school they have to learn to be competent in their understanding of western medicine as well as the philosophy and Chinese theory that acupuncture is based off of.

Cortez is really enjoying practicing acupuncture. “It’s fun, interesting, and really hard at the same time,” he says. Cortez says that there are both physical and spiritual aspects to acupuncture but he prefers to go deep in the spiritual aspect of it. When he has a patient he really likes to understand them and know everything from what they are thinking to what they are eating.

One of Cortez’s favorite patient success stories so far in his career is about a man who came to him for treatment for an injury he got from when he was in the army and he was in a lot of pain, he had great difficulties walking for about a month, and for about two weeks he was entirely paralyzed from the waist down. The man felt like he had no other choice, but to have surgery in order to get rid of his pain and begin walking properly again.

He was very reluctant to get surgery and was looking for alternative treatments that would help him get better. The man met Cortez and started receiving acupuncture treatments, and was able to finally get relief from his pain and he didn’t need surgery.

Cortez is really excited about his path ahead; he sees a lot of good things happening for him in his career as an acupuncturist. “This is only the beginning for me,” he says.

Serious injuries have turned people like Cortez and Khavin into more than just users and advocates but it inspired them to make their careers about educating and helping people get better with the same treatments that helped them.

Although positive experiences with alternative medicines won’t make everyone change their careers it still changes their lives.

See a Chiropractor

Sheila Cook, a 23-year-old business marketing major at SF State is one of these people. When she had just turned 18-years-old Cook was in a serious car accident when someone ran a red light and hit her car.

“I was t-boned on my driver’s side at 50 miles per hour,” Cook said. She was rushed to the hospital where it was quickly discovered that although she had been fortunate enough to not break any bones or have any lacerations, but she didn’t get out of the accident entirely unscathed.

“The X-Rays showed swelling that the doctors said [were] 95% likely [to] lead to long-term or permanent soft tissue damage and horrible back pain that would require painkillers twenty four seven,” says Cook.

Her father was reluctant to have his eighteen-year-old daughter on pain medication for the rest of her life, so they quickly began looking for other treatments.

“I was released from the hospital and taken to a chiropractic center. I met with my first chiropractor who reviewed my X-rays and [saw] that the soft tissue damage was there and was messing with the alignment of my back already,” Cook said. She was still in pain from the whiplash she had received and the soft tissue damage added even more.

Her chiropractor started ‘correcting’ her spine that day. “I felt a little better, but he said it would take months to feel almost anything,” Cook explained.

Cook had sessions with her chiropractor once a week for about six months. She used a combination of electro stimulation therapy, where small electrodes were attached to her back and sent pulsations to the tissue, adjustments to her spine and neck and at home strengthening exercises.

Now Cook only needs to visit her chiropractor sporadically, but she is ecstatic with the results she got from her treatments. “They worked wonders,” she says, “I still and always will have permanent soft tissue damage but by spending the time originally and going in every once in awhile for adjustments my spine and non-damaged muscle tissue is strong enough to keep me out of severe enough pain to require painkillers constantly.”

Cook’s experience taught her that there are some circumstances where alternative treatments were much more helpful than more traditional western treatments. However there are still many people who are unconvinced of alternative treatments.

“Alternative medicine is specifically the shit that isn’t proven to have serious clinical efficacy, and it’s usually a bunch of expensive crap that might make you feel better but won’t actually make you better,” says Frankie Griffen, an SF State alumna.

“Some herbs do have clinical efficacy, yes, but the number of ‘alternative medicine’ therapies that actually have directly attributable positive health outcomes is pathetically low,” says Griffen.

Griffen is especially disbelieving of theories that revolve around chi, like acupuncture. “You might as well get tickle therapy and look at a map of the body drawn by the same people who make park maps for Disney World.”

A customer pays for her meal at Hapa Ramen at the Embarcadero Farmer's Market in San Francisco on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012. Hapa Ramen sells their food at the farmers market Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez/Xpress

From Popping Up to Settling Down


pop A customer pays for her meal at Hapa Ramen at the Embarcadero Farmer’s Market in San Francisco on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012. Hapa Ramen sells their food at the farmers market Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez/Xpress

Words: Kenny Redublo
Photos: Godofredo Vasquez

The propane tanks hiss as they pump fuel into the burners. Steam comes out of every boiling pot as they cook the day’s batch of broth. Bins of hand made noodles stack up over five bins high. Coolers filled to the top with brown eggs ready for poaching. The deep fryer heats up oil for breaded garlic chicken. Hapa Ramen is up and running outside of the Ferry Building. All of this equipment is set up underneath a canopy next to other vendors just like Hapa. All of this equipment is commonplace for any fully loaded restaurant. This isn’t common. This is a pop-up.

A pop-up is a business that doesn’t have its own location and uses temporary locations to serve meals. For a restaurant, the pop-up is a concept that creates a sense of rarity and spontaneity. The pop-up gives way for innovation in the food world by approaching the customer in unorthodox ways. The pop-up is a recent trend in San Francisco food culture, but as with all trends, its longevity is always in question. The process of gaining notoriety in the food world has changed with the implementation of social networks–pop-ups can be easily tracked and followed. What this brings to the culture is finding what’s unique about the “then and now” experience of dining. What happens after “then and now” is up to the chef and the staff.

Hapa Ramen manager Richie Nakano, center, helps get customers’ orders ready at the Embarcadero Farmer’s Market in San Francisco on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012. Hapa Ramen sells their food at the farmers market Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez/Xpress

Richie Nakano looks cold. The beanie on his head and simple grey hoodie don’t mask the fact that he sees the breath in front of him. Nakano is the owner of Hapa Ramen and they set up shop in front of the Ferry Building at the farmer’s market every Tuesday and Thursday. The morning is cold, the perfect ramen weather. His crew of six, including Nakano, maintain the rush that comes in at around 11 A.M. The line bends and follows along the sidewalk. Hapa is the most popular booth at the market.

“The term ‘pop-up’ is used so loosely now,” says Nakano.

Hapa does have a regular spot at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and the Off the Grid food truck meetup, but it maintains that pop-up sensibility by showing up at restaurants like Wing Wings in lower Haight, and most recently at Hawker Fare in Oakland.

“A pop-up is a restaurant concept, but you’re constantly changing your shit around,” says Nakano. Hapa Ramen has been around for two and a half years, three in the spring. It was initially supposed to be a one time deal, but it evolved into a monthly, now weekly, spot.

Nakano says pop-ups give more leeway to experiment with dishes. They are unique experiences that play to a captive audience, not just the ones looking for sustenance, or the “diner type” according to Nakano. “Pop-ups are special experiences and we wanted to see what else we can do,” says Nakano. A special dining experience isn’t the only motivation to open a pop-up. It’s a way to get a business started.

Pop-up Non-Fiction

One progression of a pop-up is a to transition into a brick and mortar restaurant. Sarah and Evan Rich started as chefs in different restaurants and then started Chef’s Night Off, a pop-up that hosted dinners in different restaurants’ kitchens. The pop-ups started in 2011 and after practicing their specialty dishes, they secured their own space in February 2012. Rich Table opened in mid July and has become one of the hottest restaurants in San Francisco.

One of the first pop-up successes is Mission Chinese Food. Launched by Anthony Myint and Danny Bowien on July 5, 2012, Mission Chinese Food used the kitchen out of Lung Shan Restaurant in the Mission. Offering a Sichuan spin on traditional Chinese food without the MSG, the pop-up gained its notoriety through various food blogs and word of mouth. The pop-up’s big break came in when Bowien and Mission Chinese Food was featured on the Travel Channel’s The Layover, hosted by famed chef and writer Anthony Bourdain. Since then, Mission Chinese Food has made top ten lists including GQ Magazine’s Best New Restaurants of 2011, and Bowien has become the face of the restaurant, appearing on the Martha Stewart Show and modeling for the clothing line UNIQLO. The notoriety also gave Bowien enough motivation to open a Mission Chinese Food in New York.

Mission Chinese Food is a rare case of pop-up success. It has spawned that interest in starting pop-ups but that can be a gamble, according to Nakano.

The Hapa Ramen crew work together to get costumers’ orders ready at the Embarcadero Farmer’s Market in San Francisco on Thursday, Dec 13, 2012. Hapa Ramen sells their food at the farmers market Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Photo by Godofredo Vasquez/Xpress

“Since there are so many pop-ups, some people get the impression that they can do it too when their abilities aren’t there,” says Nakano. “I don’t want amateurs getting people sick.”

A Different Way to Pop

The end point for a pop-up is usually a brick and mortar restaurant or a food truck. The kitchen at Dear Mom had a different pathway.

Before it was the Dear Mom kitchen, it was Fogcutter, a food truck opened up by Carolina Hummer and Guillermo Perez in July 2011. The two worked in food trucks before, one for Hummer and two for Perez, so they knew the workings of the culture. Perez had heard of a new bar opening up with a full kitchen and they were infatuated.

“We’ve been stalking Dear Mom for a long time even before they opened,” say Hummer. “We want to use that kitchen.”

They were invited to do brunch pop-ups when Dear Mom opened up. They were already serving brunch out of the truck so they did whatever they could to get into that kitchen. Fogcutter initially turned into a pop-up to promote the truck, since they were both still in operation. They realized the food in the truck wasn’t selling so they decided to scrap the truck. The truck didn’t help alleviate any stress.

“With the truck, you had the maintenance stresses on top of running a restaurant stresses,” says Hummer. “Even though it was a great experience, I wouldn’t want a truck again.”

So Fogcutter was a pop-up, but after having its residency in Dear Mom’s kitchen, they are now the primary staff. They are the Dear Mom kitchen.

Pop-Up Don’t Stop

As fast as pop-ups come and go, the food culture and trends progress in different directions.

Nakano says pop-ups are the trend as of now, but they a need cusp. “I would want to see pop-ups slowing down. It’s hard to see what’s actually special when there are tons of pop-ups starting,” says Nakano.

He says next year will see more of a transition to pop-ups and less to brick and mortar restaurants. He doesn’t see pop-ups as the future though. “There’s some other model that we haven’t seen yet,” says Nakano.

Hummer says the demand for brick and mortar restaurants won’t change.

“People want to eat and that’s never gonna change,” says Hummer.

“The culture will always be inventive and interesting since San Francisco provides access to fresh produce and ingredients.”

She does think that there’s a movement of underground dinners, like Hungry Bear and Snag Dining, that may be the next step in San Francisco food culture.

“It’ll keep getting weirder, inventive, and stay fresh for a long time,” says Hummer.

When the burners fade, the food is tapped. Foodies leave full on freshly made food served with the sense of it being the last of its kind. With a tweet or a like or a post, the dish won’t be alone in its rarity. The foodies will be waiting and watching with hungry eyes.

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