Written by Nicole Dobarro
Photography by Mike Hendrickson
Posts Tagged ‘Xpress’
Written by Nicole Dobarro
By Ivanna Quiroz
Cartoon by Gregory Moreno
Twenty one year old Suzanne* is your average SF State student. She goes to class, goes to work, studies, and finds time to go out with her friends on the weekends. Suzanne is a business major, and, like many students, she struggles with a busy schedule. Sometimes, she feels like she needs a little help and more time. Three years ago, Suzanne was a freshman and all she needed to do was ask her roommate for some Adderall. Her roommate, diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, would frequently sell her prescribed medication to other students. It was the miracle drug that made it easy for Suzanne to focus. Studying for an exam in Macroeconomics suddenly didn’t feel so difficult and writing a ten page paper in one night didn’t feel so stressful. The secret was in the pill. The required texts were more interesting and she was doing well on all her exams. What Suzanne didn’t plan for was the way Adderall would make her feel.
“I have high blood pressure, and, when I would take Adderall, I could feel that my blood pressure was raised and that my heart was pounding. I always got really cold. I didn’t eat and didn’t sleep. I don’t do it that much anymore because I do have high blood pressure. I know that it’s really bad because you can actually feel how bad it is. Your heart is racing the whole time and you can’t calm down,” Suzanne says.
Adderall and Ritalin are drugs usually prescribed to patients with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The difference between the two disorders is based on hyperactivity. Patients diagnosed with ADHD are characterized by excessive restlessness and movement while those diagnosed with ADD are characterized by inattentiveness. Some people are diagnosed with a combination of both disorders. Today, it is common for college students not diagnosed with ADD or ADHD to use drugs, usually Adderall, to help them focus and study.
“People usually do it situationally,” explains Albert J. Angelo, a health educator from Student Health Services at SF State. “They’re doing it because of finals coming up or they feel like they need to pull an all-nighter or they are taking some kind of test that they really need to concentrate on.”
According to a 2010 study conducted by the American College Health Association, eighty-four percent of students report feeling overwhelmed by all they had to do during the year and forty percent feel overwhelmed in just the last two weeks, maybe a reason why many turn to drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.
“One time when I took it I had to write a ten page paper for an ethnic studies class,” describes SF State student Aria*. “I was in the annex and I took half a pill of Adderall with a Monster. I was up for twelve hours in the annex writing. It was really helpful. It kept me motivated and helped me focus on ideas because my mind often scatters.”
“A lot of people like to take it with alcohol or snort it for a stronger effect,” says SF State student Brianna Brostoff. “I think it’s crazy, since I’ve heard stories about people getting completely out of control on it.”
For ADD patients, Adderall has a calming influence but for those who are not diagnosed, the drug does just the opposite. Adderall and Ritalin are stimulants meaning they can temporarily improve mental or physical function. Common short-term effects include high anxiety, hypertension, insomnia and loss of appetite. One of the major dangers of the medication is that it is highly addictive says Dr. Cesar Banda, a family practice physician from Sacramento.
“It’s the same category as cocaine or morphine because it’s highly addictive,” explains Banda. “They [users] could develop tolerance meaning they would need a higher dosage to get the same result.”
“I know that it’s addictive, that’s why I use small amounts,” says SF State student Brian*. “The only amounts to get what I need to get done when it comes to studying. I use it very, very sparingly. I will not take it every day or more than twice in a week except for finals week.”
Other possible outcomes when taking Adderall can include heart complications, dependency, severe depression, seizures, aggressive behavior and even psychological problems such as schizophrenia. There have even been cases of sudden death with Adderall users who had previous heart abnormalities.
“Side effects depend on the person’s body,” explains Angelo. “If you’re taking medication without having a medical exam, you never know what could happen, especially if you’re taking some other medication or if you’re using drugs or alcohol. It could be based on what your biology is to begin with. Anything’s possible.”
The price of Adderall tends to run between five and nine dollars per pill, but can sometimes cost a lot more during finals or midterms when Adderall usage tends to peak on college campuses. Brian describes his usage as seven and a half milligrams once or twice a week, and, during finals, thirty milligrams for ten days.
“It feels euphoric at first and it helps you concentrate on something such as reading that’s very monotonous where your brain ventures off onto something else. It helps you focus on the subject at hand,” he says.
“Its [Adderall] street value is very high, especially in this area where drug culture is so prevalent,” describes an SF State student diagnosed with ADD, who asked to remain anonymous. “Initially, I sold to whomever wanted it, but in more recent days I’ve only sold it to help out friends who needed it for studying purposes. My prescribed dosage is thirty milligrams XR. I’m pretty sure it’s the highest dose available and it costs me, I believe, almost nine dollars a pill. I’ve actually sold it for less most of the time, usually six or seven dollars, but around finals time, about ten dollars each.”
Adderall sales have increased 3,100 percent since 2002 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s becoming easier and easier to obtain a prescription for Adderall, and it’s common to hear of students going to doctors complaining of being extremely distracted and struggling to complete tasks in hopes of getting their own prescription for Adderall. A 2009 NPR.com article estimates that 25 percent of college students have used “study drugs” (Adderall and Ritalin), but the American College Health Association reports that only about 6 percent of college students are actually diagnosed with ADD.
“American kids are lazy,” Aria thinks. “It’s an easy way to get stuff done without actually making your brain work on its own. I think American kids take advantage of drugs and we’re really dependent on them to get stuff done.”
Taking Adderall without having been prescribed the medication and without having been physically examined by a doctor can lead to devastating results, all for a good grade. Bad grades happen, but there are always other options—retake an exam, extra credit or even retaking the class. Bad grades can be changed but repercussions from abusing Adderall could be permanent. So, is it worth it?
*Students wished to only use their first names to protect their identity.
Xpress has often taken a single photo approach to create the cover for the magazine. This semester, Julio Cortez helped design a cover that was a little more daring. Here is a behind-the-scenes video on how the cover of Xpress Magazine came about.
It is where the Giants celebrated their World Series win. It spreads from Twin Peaks to the Embarcadero. Trolleys, streetcars, and Muni buses journey above it while the Muni Metro and BART travel below it. It’s consistently home to pedestrians, protestors, vendors, tourists, commuters, and cyclists, and it’s definitely no stranger to bumper-to-bumper traffic. All San Francisco locals know Market Street. Some flock to it, others avoid it. Today there is talk of new developments to revitalize Market Street, including an initiative to make Market completely car-free. Would it be better? Worse? How would things be different?
“As someone who works over in the Financial District, and travels through Market almost daily, I feel like traffic surrounding Market would be congested,” says San Francisco native Issac Dana. “It wouldn’t do much for pedestrians, as the street itself is still extremely busy and crowded.”
A car-free Market Street has been an ongoing debate in the city because of its ability to improve public transportation and provide a more comfortable environment for bikers and pedestrians. Mayoral Candidate and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu is at the forefront of the discussion and has called for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and other departments to implement further diversions of private automobiles on Market Street.
“A viable vision for the future of Market Street is of a world-class avenue drawing its success from the huge numbers of people it attracts through transit and taxis, and on foot and bicycle, and no private automobiles other than delivery vehicles,” explains Supervisor David Chiu in his statement to the press. “We need to act now to make this vision a reality and to speed up transit while improving the comfort of people walking and biking, and supporting the local commercial and cultural function of the street.”
There are more than twenty transit lines that run through Market Street that constitute about 125,000 boardings a day, and, according to the SFMTA’s Bicycle Count Report, the location with the most observed bicyclists in 2010 was 11th Street at Market Street totaling in 818 bicyclists. The SFMTA’s Collision Report records that 531 injury collisions occurred in 2009 involving bicyclists.
“The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is actively involved in the Market Street trials and committed to helping make Market Street the safest and most enjoyable street for people who walk and those who ride bikes,” said Kristin Smith, Communications Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
“I understand that Market is a main thoroughfare, and that there are no other direct routes through that part of the city, but with a few other traffic changes I think it would greatly improve Market Street,” said San Francisco resident Michelle Reyes. “Creating a space that is safer for cyclists and pedestrians would greatly improve Market Street, particularly the mid-market area. There is already a revitalization effort for Mid-Market, and to remove vehicular traffic would further assist that effort.”
Both Chiu and the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) have stressed that the majority of drivers on Market Street tend to be tourists. According to research from the San Francisco Travel Association, there were about 15. 9 million people that visited San Francisco in 2010, and, collectively spent, about $8.34 billion. It’s no secret that tourism brings in tremendous revenue to the city, but endorsers of car-free Market Street have yet to explain how tourism would be affected when driving would be restricted in a popular tourist area.
“I think it would be a very bad thing to restrict cars on Market,” explained Bay Area native Arianne Torres, who often drives downtown. “The city is already bad enough to drive in with all the one way streets and no left turns. It would definitely create even more traffic than there already is.”
“But, because Market Street (luckily!) is not dominated by private cars now, removing the relatively small number (mostly lost tourists and visitors–no one in their right mind drives on Market) would not have the kind of transformative impact on the street as a place that it might have on a more conventional American street,” explained Benjamin Grant, Public Realm and Urban Design Program Manager for SPUR.
Currently, a specific plan has yet to be announced, but since many of the Mayoral candidates, including David Chiu, John Avalos, Dennis Herrera, and Ed Lee support, the initiative, a car-free Market Street could be in the city’s immediate future.
By Jessica Belluomini
Another Thanksgiving with the family and the house is filled with grumbling bellies and the overwhelming smell of food boiling, frying and simmering. The table is set with all the traditional warm autumn colors and empty plates perfectly placed.
The anticipated “ding” finally sounds from the kitchen timer, and food begins to fill the empty places on the hungry table. The bird, the glazed ham, the stuffing, cranberry sauce and beloved candied yams are being attacked with spoons, forks and knives. And then there’s me, sitting there between my feasting family members eating a microwaved vegan meal by Amy’s.
Every Thanksgiving I sit at that table with a bunch of greedy mouths, while I eat my measly microwaved vegan dinner, not feeling thankful at all. One year I thought, I’m going to make my own Thanksgiving dinner for my vegan and vegetarian friends.
Now Thanksgiving really is a time of gratitude, for the organic seasonal veggies, grains and fruits that decorate the vegan table. Best of all, I’m spared from having to sit in front of a smorgasbord of dead carcasses and smelly gravy being shoveled into carnivorous chops.
Vegetarian Time’s Sauteed Garlic and Brussels Sprouts
- 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 12 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered lengthwise
- 1 Tbs. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1. Place Brussels sprouts in bowl of food processor. Pulse 12 to 15 times, or until shredded.
2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until light brown. Increase heat to medium-high, and add shredded Brussels sprouts, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, or until browned, stirring often. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and cook 5 minutes more, or until most of liquid is evaporated. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
The Vegan Table’s Mashed Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes
- 2 pounds of sweet potatoes, quartered
- 4 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
- ½ cup of non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy butter
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Place yams and potatoes in a large pot filled with water. Cook over medium heat until soft, like 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Using a potato masher or electric mixer, on low speed, mix potatoes, non-dairy milk, non-dairy butter, salt and pepper until well combined.
Vegan Soul Kitchen’s Smothered Seitan Medallions in Mixed Mushroom Gravy
Mixed Mushroom Gravy Ingredient List:
- one packet of store bought vegan gravy
- ¼ pound of button mushrooms
- ¼ pound of sliced baby bella mushrooms
1. Follow vegan gravy packet instruction and add mushrooms.
Smothered Seitan Medallions Ingredient List:
- 1 pound of seitan, cut into medallions
- 5 Tbs. of arrowroot powder
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 5 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 cups of Mixed Mushroom Gravy
- 2 cups of veggie stock
- 1 cup of finely chopped green cabbage
- 2 minced jalapeno chiles
- ¼ cup of sliced green onions
- 2 Tbs. of chopped parsley
1. Coat seitan with arrowroot.
2. Fry seitan for 3 minutes with ½ cup of oil in frying pan over medium heat. Dry oil off with paper towels, then repeat on other side. Put aside.
3. In another pan, add ½ cup of oil, increase to high heat and add onion, saute for 3 minutes.
4. Add mushroom gravy, stock and seitan. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Add cabbage, cook for 3 minutes. Stir in jalapenos, green onion and parsley.
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Unfortunately for some, attending a game isn’t enough these days. The wonderful experience of watching competition at the highest level is now tarnished with binge drinkers who look for any opportunity to wreak a little havoc.
“You have to go to a game drunk,” claims Morad Lesov, 23, who was involved in an altercation after a San Francisco Giants game. “Sitting there for three hours is no fun; when you and everyone you’re with is drunk though, that’s when you have the best time.”
While it is true that alcohol can indeed enhance an already exciting event, it is when consumption exceeds the limitations of a person that the true colors of alcohol are shown.
“We had just left the Giants game and were on our way to the train station,” says Richie Cortese, 21, who had attended the game with Lesov. “We’d definitely had a few; we like to pregame. Some other drunk guys got in our faces and we went ballistic.”
In today’s society, the intake of alcohol has become nonchalant to the point that it is normal to see someone stumbling his or her way through the ballpark. The guy throwing up in the corner? Happens all the time. The guy leaving the ballpark with a buzz? Hope you get home safe buddy!
In San Francisco, drinking before ballgames has not just become customary, but remarkably easy as well. Tailgating is a tradition that has stood the test of time, friends and families gather together to eat and drink before a game. The problem? People have begun to phase out the eating part and tailgating now means sitting in a parking lot drinking for two hours before going into the stadium. For some, drinking before the actual game holds more appeal then actually going into the stadium and watching the event one paid for.
“I usually don’t get into the game until the third or fourth inning,” said Greg Manson, 21. “Even when I’m in the stadium I don’t really watch. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Giants, that’s my team. But I can watch the game from home. When I’m at the stadium I want to get loose and have a great time. For me, having a great time usually involves killing twelve beers.”
It’s easy to rationalize this mentality; the stereotypical college kid moniker. College kids are usually thought of as heavy drinkers. Countless films have been made about the legendary drinking exploits at college parties. Likewise, sporting events are also synonymous with drinking; spotting a fat guy drinking a beer in a sports movie is about as easy as hitting a fastball thrown by Barry Zito. It is only logical then that when you put college students at a sporting event the result is binge drinking at its finest. And when you factor in the immaturity of college students with the ill-effects of alcohol, reckless results are bound to follow.
In most cases, when fights or arguments break out at a game, they are usually between fans of rival teams. It doesn’t take alcohol to spark these confrontations; true fans live and die for their teams and see it as their honor to defend their team against anyone. Though this is still no excuse for fighting, the rationale behind it makes sense. It is when fans of the same team fight each that’s puzzling. When under the effects of alcohol, however, things don’t always turn out as you would expect.
Following a recent San Francisco Giants triumph over the lowly division rival San Diego Padres, Lesov and his companions were celebrating the victory in the only way they knew how: more drinks. On their way to the train station from the bar, they ran into two fellow binge drinkers who were looking for trouble.
“We were just walking to the train, messing around a little bit, pushing each other and laughing,” said Lesov. “I accidentally bumped into some guy and he went crazy. He got in my face, started yelling and cursing at me, and then I went off on him too.”
Luckily for both parties involved, no actual fights broke out due to the presence of some sober fans who actually went to the game with the intention of watching.
“We were about to throw down, no joke,” said Lesov. “Some guys got in between us though and kept asking why we were trying to fight each other since we were all Giants fans. I didn’t care. I was so drunk and mad by then I was just trying to take it out on him.”The dangers of alcohol are well documented and wide-ranging. It doesn’t take a car to hurt, or even kill someone. Alcohol pushes extremes to new levels, where a small argument morphs into an in-your-face confrontation and a silly shoving match escalates to full-fledged fighting. The recent beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Clara County paramedic, epitomizes the frightening trend on the rise.
After traveling to L.A. with friends to take in a game between the rival Giants and Dodgers, Stow was beaten mercilessly in a parking lot outside of the stadium by two men who were unhappy with Stow wearing his team colors. Stow, who is still hospitalized, was a victim of fans who took team pride too far, fans who let their emotions get the best of them. While several suspects have been brought in, the case has yet to be closed.
The beating of Stow was not the only major incident at a sporting event this year. At a San Francisco 49ers preseason football game against Bay Area rival Oakland Raiders, two Raider fans were shot in the parking lot after the game, incidents police say were unrelated. At the same game, a vicious beating was reported in a restroom as well as countless brawls in the stands.
With this kind of rowdiness becoming more and more commonplace, the suitability of these events for children comes into question.
“I grew up going to games with my dad all the time, and I loved it,” said Ben Kamekona, 32. “I’m still going to keep bringing my kids to the game but you really have to think about it now every time. You never know what could happen. What if we get stuck in the middle of a brawl, or even worse, crossfire? I just make sure to be more aware now of my surroundings. If I see drunk and rowdy guys in my section causing trouble we’re out of there.”
Making sure children are always safe is not a new idea; parents being protective of their kids is a given. It used to be, however, that sporting events were the perfect environment to take kids, the quintessential father-son experience. And for the most part it still is, minus the constant flow of profanity, river of alcohol, and extreme fan behavior.
“It’s not even that I’m just scared that they might somehow get hurt when we go to the game,” says Kamekona. “It’s what they might be exposed to that I’m worried about too. I don’t want my seven-year-old hearing the garbage that’s yelled and seeing the animal like behavior that goes on. If I take ‘em, I definitely steer way clear of the bleachers.”
The bleachers: the cheap seats where drunken people unite. It’s here where the brunt of fights occur, where even sailors would blush if they heard the language used. And it is here where parents should avoid at all cost bringing their children if they fear for the children’s eyes and ears.
“I’ve learned to stay away from the bleachers because I understand what it means to sit there,” said Gerardo Gutierrez, a 51-year-old father of two. “If I go with my friends I have no problem with it; I don’t mind what goes on there. I’m not going to tell people what they can or can’t do; I can’t control that. I can control sitting far away from them, though, and I’m willing to pay a little more when I take my kids. I don’t let anyone ruin the game for them.”
Ultimately what people need to understand is that rowdiness and drinking have become a part of the sporting world culture. Rather then try and change that, fans that don’t want a part of it should just avoid it. That is the only option they have. Sporting events can still be magical. You just need to do a little extra planning to experience it.
By Victor Rodriguez
Photos by Nelson Estrada
Capitalism, in a general sense, is the idea of privately owning means of production for the purpose of profit, usually taking part in competitive markets.
In collaboration with the Socialist Organizer, Yancey, a philosophy major, seeks to organize dedicated students toward speaking out against the budget issues in schools, and specifically in universities. In documents, flyers and literature made available at the table behind the circle, the Bay Area branch of the nationwide organization explains what socialism is and how it can be practiced to resolve this particular problem of deficits in schools, among other things.
Because of apathy or political agitation, this is not the first time that college students have confronted the repercussions of budget cuts and rising tuition costs, nor will it be the last for the time being.
The effects of military spending also continue to take a toll, with approximately eight hundred billion dollars being funneled to the military around the world each year. The US government has half that amount up for budget in the coming year, rendering more than a billion a day, according to research done by the Revolution Youth International.
The Socialist Organizer describes proposed cuts by California government, with five hundred million dollars being cut from the CSU system.
“We seek to join the same causes as other organizations for the common cause of preventing this crisis to keep from going further.”
With many banners showcasing what they represent, as well the various tables with sign-up sheets and informative reading material, other representatives hand out their documents.
“This is money that needs to go towards education, healthcare and infrastructures,” says Jones. “Contributions from the rich for higher education is only at seven percent, the rest mostly comes from the people.”
For organizations like these, the repercussions evident from this simple collective protest stem from the capitalist system and the concept of private property. Karl Marx wrote about this concept in his work, and it is constantly referred to by these organizations. His theory states that a socialist movement is a historical necessity and is the work of a proletarian revolution, which is formed by the working class who are also the majority. Considering that a small minority control the workers’ wages as well as funding for programs, a workers’ revolution will occur when wages fall, programs are cut and the capitalist system pursues military aggression. He labels them as the bourgeoisie, otherwise known as the upper class.
By Chris Torres
Photos by Gregory Moreno
Big ideas are floating around San Francisco’s City Hall. Ideas like Central Subways, state pensions, Shark Fin Soup and America’s Cup. Impressive goals, but the economy and current mayoral candidates say most of the cash is spent.
The Board of Supervisors takes up much of San Francisco’s civic administration, but as mayoral candidate Terry Joan Baum describes it, the mayor’s office allows its holder to spearhead larger issues, especially in a city with such a progressive reputation. One of her first plans, if elected, is to reach out to the mayors of twenty of the nation’s other largest cities to discuss specific issues.
It’s September 9, and Baum is on her way to the PG&E headquarters to lead a demonstration against the energy giant on the anniversary of the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion. “PG&Evil,” one sign reads.
Visibility is important, so later, she’ll be in the Lower Haight. As mayor, Baum wants to spearhead the progressive issues that have helped to keep San Francisco in the political spotlight. She wants to reach out to the mayors of the nation’s top twenty largest cities to perhaps exact similar change at the national level. With sixteen candidates in the race, she knows her chances, but that won’t make her give up.
“I believe that the world needs San Francisco to lead again, right now,” Baum explains.
Baum ran against Nancy Pelosi for a seat in Congress in 2007, after Pelosi supported the Patriot Act and voted against the impeachment of President George W. Bush.
“I was driven to run because my representative did not represent me,” Baum says. She was arrested in the process, but did get her chance before the highest court in the land to have her name included on the ballot. She didn’t get the job, but Baum did receive the highest percentage of any third-party write-in vote for Congress in history.
Baum got an unlikely start in politics in 1970 while stuffing envelopes for Bella Abzug’s campaign for the New York House of Representatives. One of Abzug’s aides quit, no longer willing to shoulder the candidate’s busy schedule – or her volatility.
“[Abzug] had a nasty temper,” Baum recalls.
Instead of stuffing envelopes, Baum found herself at subway stations and on New York street corners, meeting voters and increasing her candidate’s visibility. It helped get Abzug into the New York House in 1971, and Terry Baum hopes the experience will get herself into the mayor’s office in November.
Back in San Francisco, Paul Currier is trying to get his campaign buses together, one of which is north of the Golden Gate and needs to be moved. His small apartment is doubling as an office, packed with papers, campaign buttons, literature, and a map of San Francisco with unmarked Post-It notes scattered around Pacific Heights. A little short-handed, his mayoral campaign has become more of a full-time, hands-on job than he ever anticipated.
“Nobody is working in my campaign but me,” he says without a hint of distress. He’s been using the internet to organize, and has been increasing his public visibility by showing up at any event he can get out to. He says that organization is the crucial to a successful campaign.
It’s hard to be visible when you’re not always invited to the community forums and mayoral debates. If they aren’t, Currier goes anyway, just like Baum did.
“The progressives are circling the wagons around [John] Avalos,” Currier says.
Like many progressive candidates, he’s not in favor of corporate tax breaks to encourage business to stay local and encourage development. He wants to see art replace blight—something most can agree with.
He went to UC Berkeley and has been homeless. The political turbulence of the 1970s made Currier decide he wanted nothing to do with politics. And for roughly 40 years, he didn’t. When Cindy Sheehan ran for a seat on the U.S. Congress in 2007, he returned to politics as a Field Coordinator for her local campaign, inspired by her bold positions during a period of such low public opinion of officials.
“I’m not a sellout; I’m not for sale,” he says.
Currier has one simple explanation for running: “If not us, who? If not now, when?” Now’s as good a time as any.
San Francisco is the first jurisdiction within the United States to use ranked-choice voting since Ann Arbor, Michigan used it unsuccessfully in the 1970s. Australia uses it to elect members of parliament, MVPs are chosen this way, and this year’s Academy Awards will be doled out via a ranked-choice vote.
A 2006 study of the November, 2005 San Francisco Assessor-Recorder race conducted by California FairVote representative and San Francisco resident Dr. Christopher Jerdonek, shows that the system not only improves voter turnout, but it drastically increases turnout in areas that otherwise had low voter turnout by “an estimated 2.7 [percent].” The report also found the most dramatic increase occurred in neighborhoods “generally recognized as among the most racially diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged in San Francisco,” implying that ranked-choice voting might serve to boost voter turnout in general. The report does, however, note that this point “deserves further study and attention.”
It remains to be seen exactly how this will play out in a mayoral race that includes sixteen candidates. Also absent is concrete data detailing how San Franciscans adapted to and proceeded with the old system. San Francisco State University Political Science Professor Francis Neely coauthored a July 2006 study with Corey Cook that ultimately found the effectiveness of ranked-choice voting to be, as Neely describes it, “a trade-off.”
It’s happened before. Oakland’s 2010 mayoral election utilized ranked-choice voting and Jean Quan was swept into office ahead of first round front-runner Don Perata after her combined second and third choice votes totaled 2,025 votes higher than Perata’s first choice showing.
“It’s often the case that if you look at the number of votes cast for that office, and you look at the final number that the winner got after all the ranked-choice voting rounds and eliminations, that the winner got less than a majority of votes cast for that office,” said Professor Neely. That’s because some voters’ ballots are exhausted, or removed from the count, and in the final count a candidate ends up with more second and third-choice votes than the front-runner’s first-choice votes.
While San Francisco only allows voters to choose three candidates, there are usually many more than that in the race. If a voter has preference for candidates that are eliminated early in the count, or have a preference for only one candidate who doesn’t make it into office, their ballot would be considered exhausted.
With races for the Australian Parliament, if a voter does not rank each and every candidate in the race in order of their preference, their ballot would be automatically disqualified.
“In races where more money was spent,” Professor Neely explains. “People appeared to have more information and ranked three candidates more often.” The ballot itself can also sometimes cause errors in voting, which would disqualify them, Neely and Cook’s study found.
Portland, Maine is running an election this year using an altered version of the system. Portlanders are allowed to rank all candidates, but don’t have to if they don’t want to. The only limit on number of choices is the number of candidates, which means fewer ballot disqualifications.
Recent polls have shown Mayor Ed Lee to be the front-runner to San Francisco’s highest office. But with the introduction of ranked-choice voting to this year’s election, there’s a possibility that another candidate might secure a majority vote by amassing more second and third-choice votes.
Exit poll studies found that in both previous instances of this new voting system in San Francisco, respondents said they understood the system. However, only about 60 percent of participants knew that ranked-choice voting was going to be used at all. So it’s conceivable that many voters came to the booth without enough information to choose three candidates, leaving their ballot open to possible exhaustion in late-round counts.
While the ranked-choice system gives voters a wider choice in their selections, voters may not have the necessary information to rank three candidates along with their first choice. Bottom line is, while ranked-choice voting allows for a wider variety of choice and perhaps greater voter participation, its greatest hindrance is its relative complexity.
“There is no election system that produces a consistent, good, undeniable, unambiguous outcome,” Professor Neely explains. “When we aggregate preferences, we have problems.”
With ranked-choice voting, there’s room for a third party. The argument goes, if you’re a Green candidate like Terry Baum, you’re only taking votes away from progressive democrats or other, more popular candidates. Baum believes that without ranked-choice voting, she wouldn’t be in the race. Baum even urges her voters to consider putting her as their second choice and putting a more popular candidate above her. She suggests John Avalos as that choice.
With ranked-choice voting in place, “[political] endorsements don’t matter,” says Paul Currier. Regardless of how San Franciscans react to the system this November, ranked-choice voting is sure to give underdogs a better chance to finish near, or even at, the front.
Somebody will most definitely be elected come November. Regardless of who occupies the Mayor’s Office in January, the issues will be coming down the pipe. All that remains to be seen is City Hall room 200’s next occupant, and the path that brought them there.
The four-girl troupe calls themselves the Pop Rockettes, after their employers and the event they dance for: Electro Pop Rocks (EPR). The group performs every Wednesday night, and when they are booked for outside events. When the lights dim after the opening set, two girls strut to either side of the DJ booth in six-inch contemporary versions of the 1960s go-go boots called “stacks.”
“We get really, really sweaty,” admits Forrest, the longest standing member and leader of the Pop Rockettes. The girls’ break time is usually spent guzzling water and reapplying bronzer to their stomachs and chests, to create the illusion of abs and bigger cleavage with contours and shading —as if wearing three bras on top of each other wasn’t enough.
Forrest, an SF State sophomore from San Mateo, has a rotating hair color palette, multiple facial piercings, and at least three visible tattoos. Despite her alternative appearance, when Forrest enters the dressing room she looks like any other SF State student: dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, with faded henna tattoos on her pale skin.
Two hours before they begin, she hones the girls’ energy onto this night’s outfits, which are constructed out of pieces worn for a previous performance. Embarrassed, Forrest explains the troupe usually has unique outfits for each performance, but EPR is a weekly event, and it gets pricey.
Despite this, the group is under pressure to defend the club that’s given them the opportunity to dance for over a year. Forrest claims EPR helps the girls out with funding their outfits.
“I keep my receipts and they reimburse me,” she explains.
While pinning her hair up, Haverkamp interjects, disagreeing with Forrest’s defense over costume costs.
“They pay for some things, but not for everything,” Haverkamp says, noting that they have to supply their own boots – which run for about one hundred dollars.
When not go-go dancing, Haverkamp works as a sales associate at Hot Topic in her hometown of Foster City, though she considers dancing to be just as much of a job.
“Sometimes the extra money I put into go-go dancing bothers me, but at the same time it’s me choosing to invest in my dancing career,” Haverkamp says of purchasing things like boots, shorts and bras with her own money.
The girls agree that the event does not pay for most items because some are expensive and others could be used for everyday outfits.
“It would definitely be nice,” Haverkamp says as she imagines if all outfit expenses were covered. “But I wouldn’t expect it.”
Bakr, Forrest, and Haverkamp won’t confirm the amount they get paid for Wednesday’s event, but Forrest says the girls no longer dance at any event for free.
“We’re at the point where we don’t need to dance for free,” she says. “It doesn’t benefit us and we want to be professional.”
The Pop Rockettes used to dance at TORQ, a monthly event held at destination club Ruby Skye for an eighteen-and-over crowd. They have since given up the gig for undisclosed reasons.
The topic is uncomfortable, leaving some of the girls laughing while others struggle to figure out an eloquent way to explain the situation. They occupy themselves by continuing to put together outfits in an attempt to appear busy.
“They have other dancers working there now,” says Forrest, who explains that a current Pop Rockette took the job—but as a group, the troupe are no longer affiliated in any way.
Located at 715 Harrison Street, EPR claims to be the largest electronic weekly event in North America. The crowd is generally between eighteen and twenty years old, and draws college-aged commuters from cities all over the Bay Area. The space also attracts a mix of inexperienced club-virgins, gangster guys with fitted caps, and rave girls in imitation go-go outfits. Patrons attend the event religiously, creating at least an hour long line for entry. Over the past year, admission prices have risen to fifteen dollars a night. Many of the event’s regular attendees are fans of the Pop Rockettes. Many have favorite members while some pursue friendships and maybe more with them.
“I made a second Facebook,” explains Forrest of her solution to random EPR club goers finding her. “I have one with my first and middle name, and then one with my nick name and last name. Anyone who knows me as Ally is probably my real friend.”
Rather than making a fan page, Forrest opted for making a second profile, citing that fan pages are for “actual celebrities.” Other members of the Pop Rockettes recognize the possible positives of having fan accounts, but so far have created one page for the group rather than personal pages. None of the girls say they have any actual stalkers, but the group giggles when the subject is brought up.
“I always want to be friendly, but there’s a fine line between ‘friendly’ and ‘too friendly,’” says Bakr regarding any male fans that approach her when she’s not dancing. “I think it’s important to make that line very known.”
The Pop Rockettes are nervous about contributing to existing stigmas surrounding dancers of their kind. Many rave events or clubs feature go-go girls on flyers to appeal to male attendees.
“I don’t want to be one of those dancers who thinks she’s more important than the DJ,” says Forrest, who explains there’s no reason she should ever take the place of a DJ on a flyer.
The Pop Rockettes go to great lengths to set themselves apart from the average raver. Forrest tries not to be too harsh on the “Kandi Kids” who go to EPR, admitting that she used to be one herself.
“Kandi Kid” is a name given to a typically young raver who wears beaded bracelets that resemble candy. The jewelry is affiliated with ecstasy use, and Kandi Kids tend to take the rave lifestyle seriously, even outside of events.
“We are providing a service and deserve respect. We aren’t just random girls dancing around drunk in our underwear,” Forrest says of herself and the Pop Rockettes. Since EPR has switched venues, there is ample room for attendees to imitate the Rockettes’ dance style.
EPR doesn’t stress sobriety as much as many clubs do, and unlike many go-go troupe’s Facebook pages – the Pop Rockettes do not explicitly state their dancers are one hundred percent sober. The girls casually sip margaritas in the dressing room, barely finishing half between the four of them.
“I take this seriously,” says Haverkamp, who explains that dancing while drunk would be near impossible, especially in six-inch boots.
On Wednesday morning, Forrest and Haverkamp wake up to go to morning classes at SF State, while Bakr heads to work at an office in Park Merced.
“I want it to be a part of my life, but I’m getting older and have a career, so I don’t have as much time to dedicate to it,” she says. Although now, Bakr is in her fourth year of go-go dancing.
The group finally decided that two girls will wear white and pink, while the others will rock white and blue. Forrest ties pieces of tulle she bought at her favorite discount fabric store in the Mission around the other girls’ waists and boots. The dressing room is getting sweaty and cramped and the girls head out for a cigarette to relax before the next three hours of dancing. Just another Wednesday night.
“Bars like this are a dying breed here,” explains Isaac Fitzgerald, writer, editor and dive bar aficionado. What the young Boston transplant is talking about are Mission district dive bars. Open the door to any one of the bars that line the district’s corridors and drinkers are met with an atmosphere where anything goes and it’s almost impossible to be thrown out. The chiseled faces and rough hands of the regulars make the scene as they talk and joke with bartenders who have been slinging drinks in this city for the last thirty years. Rough and tumble dive bars used to dot Mission streets like mosquitos on a warm damp night, but as the years go by and the area changes, many of the places just aren’t what they used to be.
“A dive bar is somewhere you can show up any old time and know you’re going to get a spot,” says Josh Spainhoward, an Ohio native and San Francisco transplant who has been drinking in Mission dive bars for the last seven years. “You can belly up, order a shot and a beer and stare in the mirror and nobody’s’ going to say hello. The bartender will be around when your glass is empty and that’s it,” Spainhoward explains as he takes a drag on his cigarette and sip of his pint and lounges on an outdoor patio on a rare, balmy San Francisco night.
The Mission district is called a “city within a city” for a reason. The area has been a longtime home to San Francisco’s working class, from the Irish, German and Italians to the current Latino population – the small district has opened its city streets and bar doors to the day laborers and the downtrodden. Wander away from the main thoroughfares of the district and in the back alleys and hidden corridors, and that is where the real dive bars are found. “They’re somewhere you go to drink and stare at the wall and kinda daydream and chat it up with those around you, but for the most part you’re there to drink and not do anything else,” Spainhoward elaborates, a half full pint in his hand and a small smile on his blond haired, blue eyed Midwestern face. These are bars without rules and pretensions, bars where patrons don’t go to be seen or be a part of any scene; they go to drink with friends who are closer to family and mingle with people from all walks of life.
“A dive bar is a place where you can’t get thrown out,” explains Fitzgerald as he sits back in his barstool with a Bud in his hand. The light streams down through a dirty window and the Giants score another home run. It is only three in the afternoon on a Sunday and already regulars are blitzed. Old men with long gray hair tied back into ponytails clink beer bottles over baseball victories as Deb continues to keep the beer caps popping and liquor flowing.
“Let me tell you a story that happened here (at Clooney’s),” says Fitzgerald, while his hands grip the beer bottle and the crowd around the bar lets out a collective sigh over a ball game disappointment. “I was in here on a Sunday afternoon, much like this, but there was no sports so there was a much thinner crowd. These 4-5 Irish guys who had obviously been up all night doing drugs were just in here getting drunk and this one girl was talking to one of the guys and then started talking to the other. The guys’ tempers rose, and after having been a bouncer at Zeitgeist, I just saw what was about to happen.” Fitzgerald’s voice starts to rise as his hands gesticulate in time with the story.
“The guys go at each other’s throats so I actually grab them throw them outside, I come back inside, I’m feeling really good about myself and they peek their heads in.” At this point Fitzgerald sighs and shakes his head, seemingly in disbelief at the story he is telling and the words that are coming out of his mouth. “And the bartender doesn’t blink. She just says ‘Guys if you’re willing to calm down you’re more than welcome to come back in, stay and have a drink.’ They come back in and immediately start a fight. A chair gets broken, they knock over the bubble gum stand. Again we throw them outside and bolt the door, cops come, cop walks in and before anyone could say anything the bartender was like ‘They won’t come in here, I’ve never seen those guys before in my life.’ And I was just floored. You cannot get kicked out of this bar. You really can’t, and that’s the kinda stuff that happens at a dive bar. Part of it has to be what’s allowed.”
Clooney’s, and other dive-y places that line the Mission district corridors have a rich history. Though the area is currently known to have a primarily Latino population, it wasn’t always like that. After the infamous 1906 earthquake, the district was home to mainly Irish. According to Kevin Mullen, a San Francisco native with Irish-born parents, in an interview with local news outlet KALW, after the devastation of the 1906 earthquake and fires, the Irish population moved out of SOMA and into the Mission. Mullen tells KALW that the Mission soon came to be known as the Irish district and that the “Mission Irish” were “a little more rough-edged than other types of people.” As the Irish started to flood the Mission district, so did Germans and Italians. It was this wave of culture in the early 1900’s that established the Mission as a rough and tumble working-class neighborhood.
Currently, many people equate the Mission district to a hotbed of Latino gang activity and violence. And while that isn’t far from the truth, the area was once home to an overwhelming majority of San Francisco’s Latino day laborers. Since residents have first planted roots and started working in San Francisco, districts have grown and changed depending on population shifts. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the Mission started to gain the reputation and population it has now. As is the story with most population redistribution in San Francisco, the whole thing started with rent prices.
In the 30s, San Francisco’s Latino population lived in North Beach, but rent prices started to skyrocket and the first place the forced out population found to go was the Mission district. They started at 16th Street and worked their way into the small landscape, changing the dynamics of the area and politics of the district. As the 30s turned into the 40s more Latino immigrants came from South America and Mexico and made a home in the working-class neighborhood. As the area started to grow and change, so did the drinking establishments.
Mission bars became meeting places for locals, but for immigrants they were much more. MissionMission, a blog about the Mission district culture featured a Mission Loc@l piece about longtime Latino dive bar El Tin Tan. The bar is located on 16th Street, in between a taqueria and a dingy residential hotel whose barricaded door has a broken lock and Spanish instructions hanging in the window. The small bar, crowded in the middle of chaotic streets, armed with a heavy door and pulsating Mexican pop music is more than a place to get a beer for immigrants—it is an opportunity to start a life. “Informal meeting places where immigrants gather and hear about job opportunities have always been vital to settling in America. Despite its humble appearance, El Tin Tan is one of these places, famous…as a key stop in the United States for Latinos hoping to escape poverty in their home countries,” according to the article.
The Mission district’s population is once again going through a radical change. Once it was immigrants who flocked to the dingy streets in hopes for a better life, free of whatever was binding them in their oftentimes Latin American home countries. Now, the transplants are white kids. Urban twenty-somethings are attracted to the Mission for its budding art scene, flurry of new restaurants and cheap rent in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. “Young people who work at Google are coming in, and those people want style, they want clean bathrooms. As the neighborhood changes we’re seeing a decline in dive bars. But that’s because the secret is out: this is a great city, everybody loves it and it’s kinda like this resurgence,” explains Fitzgerald. In an attempt to expand horizons, young and hip bar owners are buying out places that were once owned and operated by Mexicans—in one recent example, a Mission district Latin dance club is being renovated to be a French gastropub.
These small bars, where anything goes and the world could either be a pearl or a rock, used to be a staple of the once working class Mission district. Now the grizzled regulars are slowly being replaced by the city’s young, hip and rich. “They’re turning dive bars into destination spots,” explains Bill Bergstrom, a San Francisco native, San Francisco State graduate and longtime dive bar patron. “I’ve seen it the most in the 500 Club and the Gestalt Beerhaus.”
The 500 Club, at the corner of Guerrero and 17th Street, was once a working class staple. The dimly lit semi-spacious dive bar was home to a group of Latino blue-collar workers, a hot rod car club, the 500ers, and off-duty bike messengers. The Vegas style sign that runs horizontal along the front of the building advertised the bar opening at 6 a.m. Bergstrom sits back and reminisces of evenings past when he and friends would be able to take refuge with the day laborers, car enthusiasts and messengers – the 500 Club was a place to get away and hide for awhile. The bartender was curt, the drinks were strong and the decor was non-existent.
With a deep sigh and a heavy heart, Bergstrom guesses it was about five years ago that the bars started to change. “Suddenly on a Saturday night you were unable to get service.” With the change in neighborhood came a change in the patrons. The bars were slowly but surely attracting a new crowd, a group of people who came from all over the city. The locals weren’t the ones sitting on the ancient bar stools anymore; it was the new wave of Mission hipsters and visitors from other parts of the city. “They were taking people who used to enjoy local flavor and pushing them to other neighborhoods,” explains Bergstrom.
The 500 Club isn’t the only dive bar guilty of trading the title of dive to that of destination. The once dive bar Zeitgeist is perhaps one of the most infamous to do so. According to Fitzgerald, Zeitgeist has had an interesting history. The large bar, known mostly for it’s outdoor seating, disgusting portable bathrooms, strict rules, juicy burgers and punk rock jukebox, was originally a gay bar. When the AIDS epidemic hit San Francisco, Zeitgeist owner Hans Grahlmann, a motorcycle enthusiast, decided to shift the bar from a gay spot to a motorcycle hangout joint. Zeitgeist ran as a motorcycle bar until the late 90s – early 2000s when Grahlmann was shot and the messengers took the bar over. Zeitgeist slowly started evolving into a hipster bar when the bike messengers took over, and within recent years, a destination bar. “Now the secret is out,” laments Fitzgerald.”people are coming from the Marina and they love it. The staff is still there, but it’s not a dive bar. Zeitgeist is an institution now and the bar reflects that.”
Though according to Bergstorm and Fitzgerald, many of the famed bars have transitioned from dive to destination, some places are handling the development better than others. Both agree that the 500 Club is the worst in dealing with the transition, but Bender’s Bar and Grill is arguably one of the best. “Benders to me is what Zeitgeist used to be,” says Fitzgerald while he passes his now empty beer bottle from hand to hand. “Benders is more authentic, it’s owned by a bar worker it’s owned by guys who say fuck this, why should I be slinging drinks when I could be slinging drinks and owning my own place?”
Benders has been through a lot, to say the least. The large and spacious yet dimly lit and dingy bar on the corner of 19th Street and South Van Ness has experienced not one, but two fires, noise complaints and fights – you name it, Bender’s has had it. And somehow, through it all, the little bar has managed to stay open and keep a following.
“This place used to be a dive bar, and then it burned down,” says Bender’s doorman Michael Madfes. Seated on top of a bar stool haphazardly placed outside next to the ashtray, Madfes jokes with regulars in between checking identification cards. The SF State alum keeps a twinkle in his eye and darts through the door at random intervals to sip from pint glass sized drinks waiting for him on the bar’s counter. “It has definitely changed, but I think for the better. Before the fire it was smaller, darker, louder and more compact. Then they remodeled it, opened it up and made it roomier.”
Though it’s no secret Bender’s is no longer a dive bar, that doesn’t stop the pre-fire patrons or downtrodden drinkers from sitting back with a shot and a can and soaking in the atmosphere. In its transition from dive bar to destination, Bender’s made major steps to make the bar more welcoming – the most recent renovations included the construction of a kitchen that includes both vegan and vegetarian options, a stage area for shows and a staff that has banded together to create a small family.
Gretchen Stelzenmuller, a pint size, punk rock cook at Bender’s explains that, “it’s a small crew who has been working there for a long time,” and through those long and busy nights, the small crew has somehow been able to make a motley family out of the bar. The staff listens to each other, takes note and works with each other for the common goal of keeping the bar running. The bar manages to cater to patrons old and new, hardened regulars drink beside fresh-faced 21-year-old students, and somehow the two juxtaposed drinkers find refuge and solace together.
To many, community is the key to keeping a bar running. “I’ve worked here for about four years and it’s really evolved,” says Clooney’s bartender Laura Dunne as she sits for once behind the bar, drink in hand and watches her twenty-something bleached blonde daughter run the bar drinking establishment she normally works. “We get all kinds of people: gay, straight every nationality.” One of the biggest secrets of Clooney’s success is its lack of a theme. By not catering to one type of drinker, a bar opens itself up to all drinkers willing to move past the main drag and look for something that lacks a theme.
The other biggest secret to Clooney’s success is what most of the new trendy bars sorely lack. “The owner is the nicest person you’ll ever meet,” continues Dunne. “He treats us well, he’s kept the prices the same and he’s here every morning.” It’s no secret Clooney’s has been around for a while–the history seeps out of the strong wood walls and ownership isn’t going anywhere. It’s true that if you look at the owner of Clooney’s, he will not strike you as the picture perfect image of seen-it-all bar owner. In fact he looks young and too fresh-faced for the dive bar industry. But take a deeper look and you’ll see that the bar has been in the same family for decades now, the rules are the same as when it first opened and truth be told, though the owner is young, he’s not going anywhere.
“Every step along the way, things change,” explains Spainhoward as he takes a last drag of his cigarette and walks back to his motorcycle. “Nothing lasts forever, you just gotta roll with the punches. My favorite bar is no longer there, but I don’t cry every night. If I’m in the mood for something, I go somewhere else.” And go somewhere else is what the patrons of the original Mission dive bars are forced to do. As the area changes and grows, drinkers have to realize there is a whole city to explore. Though the “city within a city” that is the Mission district is becoming quickly gentrified, other options lie within a few mile radius. The only hard part is convincing yourself it’s time to leave.
“We need to develop skills that our grandparents and our great-grandparents possessed,” Fitzgibbons goes on to say. “Things like sewing, cooking, and canning.”
While the lost art of canning may not be at the top of most people’s “to learn” list, it is a practice that is rising in urban sustainability movements. Fitzgibbons is also quick to echo Frank’s point—when people jar food themselves they are able to bypass any sort of unnatural preservatives and know exactly what is going onto their plates and into their bellies.
“You want to start in small batches,” Frank explains as he crushes the grapes. After a few minutes of mashing, the three pounds of grapes are reduced to a pulpy, sweet-smelling mess. Next, Frank transfers the whole thing into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Then he takes careful steps in squeezing the juice from the grapes. Once the juice has been carefully extracted, Frank pours the juice back into the soup pot. He says that the juice has to come to a rolling boil before anything can be done with it.
For those not impressed by internet tutorials, Leena Trivedi-Grenier of LeenaEats recommends the traditional book format.
By Julio Cortez
Photos by Gregory Moreno
It’s a warm Thursday evening in San Francisco’s Union Square, a bustling shopping destination for those ready to indulge in wool-rich fall essentials during the current Indian summer transition. Bradley Miller, a downtown makeup extraordinaire, gazes at Zara’s fall 2011 womenswear campaign highlighting high-waist men’s trousers and tailored military overcoats. The people at Zara somehow got ahold of the celebrity hairstylist that gave Hollywood’s vanilla starlets that boyishly tussled pixie cut.
Though fashion is constantly evolving, it’s no secret the culture is simultaneously recycling highlights from runways past. The 90’s grunge revival is alive and well, and the return of minimalism echoes on the streets of San Francisco, furthering the androgynous inspired wardrobe of modern day trends. Street style’s latest garbs are geared towards a unisex friendly market, syncing male and female textiles. Color palettes and minimalist basics are now more effortlessly interchangeable among the sexes.
A little navy-blue number is tucked away inside Zara on Sutter Street. Bradley calls earlier in the morning to put the medium, all-over sequin blazer from the women’s fall collection on hold – the largest size in stock in San Francisco. Two others of the same blazer are on the sales floor, both of which are tagged extra-small.
Bradley admits that he would’ve bought the $200 blazer if they had a larger size, pointing his fork at the evening sky above Café de la Presse on Grant Street. The traditional men’s cut with the sparkling twist is what inspires the one time SF State student to plan a disco look around the blazer while he’s at work. “In this city, stores like Zara are always out of large sizes in the women’s department and small sizes in the men’s department.” Could the flocks of slender gender-benders from FIDM be to blame for this? Bradley thinks so.
“I had a very awkward sense of style growing up and boy’s clothes didn’t look good on me,” Bradley says of his thin frame and feminine features.
In middle school, his mixture of boy’s and girl’s clothing even sparks rumors that Bradley is a hermaphrodite. The 1993 beyond baggy jean and over-sized flannel jacket trend have thankfully yet to return to our wardrobe rotation; back then, it was all that was available to boys Bradley’s age.
There’s a misconception about men wearing women’s clothing. Bradley doesn’t want to be a woman, but he gets verbally assaulted for wearing billowy womenswear paired with trim tailored menswear.
“The feeling of wearing clothes is so relevant to how people feel inside,” says Bradley, noting that we all live everyday in fashion. “Why wear something someone else chooses for you to wear?” In Bradley’s world, and for many of the trendsetters in this city, there is no men’s or women’s section – just a giant closet full of inspiration.
“These girls are walking around in their type of fashion – nylon stockings, tank tops as dresses and rainbow colored hair,” says Bradley, praising the Oakland’s street femmes for their ballsy attempt at style. “These girls smell like pot and talk like Lil’ Wayne, but no one is attacking them for dressing the way they dress.”
There’s a cliché that relates to this: fashion is not pretentious, it’s the person wearing the clothes that’s pretentious. Fashion shouldn’t be about menswear or womenswear. It’s the person inside the clothes that’s male or female. “That’s it,” exclaims Bradley.
“I’ve learned to appreciate it for what it is,” Bradley says of getting attacked by downtown haters for his sexually ambiguous attire. “People are seeing in me what they don’t normally see everyday. They’re getting one step closer to accepting it.”
Bradley’s Facebook doppelgangers are McCaulay Culkin and Denise Richards. You’d expect people to freak out a little when they second-guess his looks and not the unisex trousers from American Apparel he wears to work. “I am 100 percent a male in my mind, but people flip their shit because of what I wear.”
Andrej Pejic, the androgynous runway and editorial phenomenon, dubbed male model of 2011 in the fall fashion issue of New York magazine. The issue’s Prettiest Boy In The World feature by Alex Morris highlights Pejic’s ability to make a career of working both sides of the runway.
Lady Gaga ditched her teal wig, archive Gianni Versace silks and fluctuating “Born This Way” era beauty mole at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. She instead opts for her Jo Calderone alter ego; an Italian, twenty-something, faded lover of Gaga’s with a scorned heart and a vulgar mouth.
The male image is slowly creeping into a state of deconstruction, allowing itself to implement daring details and traditionally feminine influences. Think about where you live and your accessibility to fashion when letting your style freak flag fly. Although gender-bending style is making its way back into the mainstream, it’s easy for some to confuse unisex with cross-dressing and cross-dressing with androgyny.
“What’s androgyny?” asks fashion writer William Biga, a 24-year-old Colorado Springs native and San Francisco transplant. “It doesn’t end or start with dressing like a guy or a girl – it’s more about blurring the lines.”
William believes that it’s easy for the experimental male to throw on a pair of heels, but androgynous style can easily become a gimmick instead of a message. In short, just because you can doesn’t mean you should when it comes to experimenting with gender boundaries.
Something about San Francisco street style allows us the freedom to explore fashion outside of our comfort zones – if we want to. Masculine and feminine come together when utilitarian structure and our generation’s gothic rehash become more readily available at retailers such as H&M, Cotton On and Allsaints Spitalfields.
The San Francisco girl can be identified by her love affair with Dr. Martens, which on occasion is accompanied by a floral dress and fur á la Courtney Love circa Live Through This. The iconic footwear is tied to the punk and skinhead movements, but most importantly its durability as a men’s work boot. Now, more than ever, its widespread accessibility and variation allows it to become a necessary staple for both sexes.
Fashion students trot along Market Street in this season’s knock offs of last season’s runway favorites. Campus gators embrace the combat boot revolution, another unisex trend that has become accessible for boys and girls thanks to budget friendly mall brands.
New wave goth in the 80s got out of control in the hair and makeup department. The style of 90s grunge allowed boyfriends and girlfriends to lend each other their oversized flannels and Nirvana t-shirts in case they want to freshen up their morning walk-of-shame. Today, it’s evident that San Francisco youth love borrowing a note from the good, bad and ugly pages of time.
“You don’t realize how weird San Francisco is and how quickly you assimilate to the city’s ability to liberate you” says William, opting to take his Marlboro smoke break indoors whilst resting on a black weathered coffee table in his barren Nob Hill apartment. “You go somewhere else and people still have a hang up about men using the women’s bathroom. I’m like, ‘really? I’m not in San Francisco anymore.’”
For such a global city, there’s still a sense of everyone needing to adapt to different rules and regulations when it comes to gender and fashion.
Certain parts of the city allow us to express ourselves with clothing a little more freely than others.
“If I wear my skirt downtown, tourists see it as a novelty,” says Biga, “but someone else can reference the inspiration behind my obsession with Rad Hourani.” Hourani is a Canadian designer of Jordanian and Syrian descent recognized for his signature unisex approach to silhouettes.
It’s crucial to comprehend fashion’s regional dialect. Biga recalls one early Saturday morning shortly after moving from Colorado two years ago.
“I was walking down Sutter on my way to work. There was this tall, bearded guy with long black hair pulled up into a tussled Japanese bun,” describes Biga, motioning his hands above his buzzed scalp to mimic the style. “His autumn-colored pleated skirt that went down to his ankles caught my attention, and his tobacco colored boots.”
There was nothing gimmicky about the man’s look, which Biga recalls looking like a Yohji Yamamoto model just a few blocks away from being mistaken as a drug fiend in the Tenderloin. When Biga delivers his skirt look, he admits to just looking “like some gay boy in a skirt.”
For some, their image is based on more than sampling from visual inspiration. Sometimes it’s a little deeper, maybe even a spiritual experience.
By day, Brooklyn bred Terry Tsipouras finds himself managing a doctor’s office in San Francisco. By night, the creative looker performs as a drag queen and promotes local nightlife events. In Greek, his first name is actually Theodoros, which translates to Theodore. He went by Teddy from a young age. When moved to Connecticut, where he was raised, his my mother had such a strong accent and would roll her D’s like R’s that eventually teachers just assumed his name was Terry.
“It’s funny to trace the evolution of your name and how you end up with it,” says Tsipouras, who cites that more often than not you can find meaning in a name’s conception, “in this case I really now understand how I ended up with Terry.”
What’s in a name? “Mine is an androgynous name that really does apply more to me than the latter,” he says, “regardless of not owning it at birth, it still found me through a series of unusual circumstances.” Such is life.
“I have read, in esoteric literature, that an orange energy field covers San Francisco,” says Terry, “this explains why many receive the telepathic calling to come here and pursue some form of personal enlightenment.”
Terry reflects on a calling of his own from the Bay, joining two of his best friends on their move to San Francisco at the same time as Burning Man. At the time, Terry was in an “insecure place of bewilderment,” as he says, having just graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York with an emphasis on accessories design.
“I had followed all appropriate societal paths towards growth and was still left with an instinctual feeling of incompleteness,” reflects Terry, yearning to discover who he is in the past, present and future.
Following his gut and listening to his heart, Terry realizes that his quest is far from over and that he needs to break his ties in New York City to continue on the path towards self-discovery.
“I called my mother, had her move all of my things to her basement, and started a new life,” Terry admits proudly. “It’s been five and a half years and my journey continues.”
First exposed to the city through Burning Man, Terry describes his experience with San Francisco fashion as spiritually-based futuristic tribal. “I really think that the fashion here is beyond trends,” says Terry. “Exemplifying the theory that fashion starts on the streets with the youth.” That’s not to say that many in the quiet San Francisco scene don’t pay attention to trends, but instead choosing to ignore the trends that other cities around the world are creating.
The experience one has with fashion is personal, which Terry believes is someone’s individual quest calling on them to mirror how they feel on the inside with their clothing. Everything in this city is a statement. “What do I want to tell the world today? How will my exterior armor portray the path that I have endured? What does my image say to the world and does it match my personal journey?” These are questions that Terry believes many San Franciscans, including himself, face when getting dressed.
However, when it comes to the evolution of androgyny, Terry feels it cannot be contemplated through the constraints of something societal and physical such as a city’s border. In fact, he definitely doesn’t see it as a trend, accepting it as something bigger than a person’s lifestyle. “I consider myself to be a Berdache,” says Terry, “a two-spirit being.” Berdache is recognized in the Native American culture, as well as in the cultures of other indigenous tribes. The presence of male and female energies are in him. Although some scientists may argue Terry’s claim through an imbalance of hormones, he doesn’t agree.
“For me,” Terry says, “the ability to channel both male and female energies is a gift from the universe and provides evidence that there is a world beyond the physical.”
San Francisco has a more compassionate and conscious understanding of sexuality that Terry says allows him to dress as he feels without worrying if the garment happens to be made for a woman or a man.
“After all, these restrictions in fashion are all evolved human regulations that mirror current societal standings and their only constant is change,” says Terry.
If you took a stroll through the Castro last December, you may have seen Terry channeling a Greek Jesus on posters for club promoter Joshua J’s “Big Top: Homo for the Holidays.” The poster suggest that Terry prefers to wear Jesus’ birthday suit while two angels hold a banner with the event date over his goodies. If your eyes don’t know where to go when stumbling upon the ad on his Facebook profile, check out the romanticised crucifix tattoo centered on his chest or the flowing brown locks held down by a leather crown of thorns. In an alternate poster, Terry delivers what his friends label a humorous Mary Dragdalene look. We’ll take one of each print if your archives are open, J.
It’s not just religious iconography that inspires the 30-year-old artist. In August, he collaborates with friends, including Bradley Miller, on a photo illustration honoring femininity and its resurgence of power in modern society.
“The message was to tell the world that we are all Gods and Goddesses, that we are all Kings and Queens, that we are all part of the thread of the universe that binds us,” Terry says of the shoot.
In other words, we are all connected. Terry believes that our journey is one of remembrance and back tracking to a place of acceptance and honor, “a place where we were not separate but equal,” emphasizing a loss of unity in humanity overtime. Gender boundaries are broken and blended in the fruition of Terry’s vision, portraying a female as a male, a queen as a commoner, and Egyptian/African as a Caucasian.
“I was seemingly passable to the untrained eye,” admits Terry, “through the use of symbolism, color and posture that we have attached to what we know of as royalty.”
What we see in and out of our own little San Francisco world is completely subjective. “Once all of these labels are stripped away, there lies a being that is just like you, a being conceived and manifested through the wonder that is love,” Terry reminds us.