Category: San Francisco

John Waters trivia

Ages ago, when I used to work at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco, we used to play this trailer before the main feature for our own amusement. According to a staff member, the John Waters No Smoking trailer was actually filmed at the Roxie years earlier.

The Roxie was one of the first theatres in the country to screen Waters’ first films (My faves are Desperate Living and Pink Flamingos) – and even after he became a nationally known director and notorious purveyor of smut, he never forgot the the tiny Roxie Cinema. Every year at Xmas I used to see a handwritten card from Waters himself hanging in the narrow staircase leading up to the projection booth. What a classy guy.

The last time I saw him was at the Warhol Museum. He had a show of his artwork there and a friend and I skipped our graduation ceremony so that we could go to the opening. I gave him one of Rev. Hugh Pokrit’s 3D prayer rugs from my MFA thesis show. I’d like to think that it’s now hanging in his house somewhere…hopefully surrounded by merkins and PLA memorabilia.

Design Gallery

thumbnail images from balluff design gallery
thumbnail images from balluff design gallery

I finally collected and uploaded a new design gallery of my print and web-based works from the mid-nineties to the present. It consists of 138 images of business cards, club cards, print ads, film posters, catalogs, websites and postcards from my years as a graphic designer in the SF Bay Area to now. Enjoy…

Support POOR Press

POOR is a one of a kind San Francisco-based group that does great work around issues of poverty, and has also developed an amazing job training program. Show up and give them some support!

WHEN: November 11, 7pm
888 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Practice conscious consumption by purchasing POOR Press publications and art created by youth, adults and elder poverty scholars in residence at POOR Magazine for the holidaze!

POOR Press is a revolutionary art and access project of POOR Magazine aimed to providing access for silenced voices on issues of poverty, racism, disability, child abuse, welfare deform, the Prison Industrial Complex, houselessness, border fascism, gender oppression and media InJustice.

POOR Press is also an economic development project beginning with digital arts, creative writing and design education through POOR’s Digital Resistance Program that is devoted to creating a micro-business opportunity for very low and no-income youth, adults and elder writers and artists of POOR Magazine.

Change is Gonna Come…Eventually

My peoples are righteously pissed about the passage of Prop. 8 in California. I went to the gay marriage march tonight and found a huge crowd of people who were not dejected by the election results, but rather, energized by their anger. You don’t take away the rights of twenty thousand people without a fight.

Already, John Aravosis of Americablog and DailyKos are calling for a boycott against the state of Utah, and major Mormon contributors to the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign, which includes the Mormon-owned Mariott Hotel chain.

Nearly 4 out of every 5 dollars raised for the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign came from Mormons – approximately 19 million dollars – according to the Huffington Post

Facebook groups and sites such as are popping up both to call for a boycott, and to organize a letter writing campaign asking the IRS to review the Mormon Church’s tax exempt status in light of their overtly political stance on the issue (churches are supposed to be mostly apolitical in order to receive tax exempt status).

List of upcoming protests in CA here.

I Was an Illegal Alien

In the early nineties, I worked illegally for almost two years as an english teacher in Taiwan. Yes, I was one of those illegal aliens you hear about: there on a visitor’s visa, which meant I had to leave the country every so often, get a new stamp in my passport from some other country (Hong Kong), then fly back to work after a weekend of bar hopping, shopping, and exploring. A companion and I were such fiendish english-teaching criminals that we tried to break into a HK theme park so we could swim with the dolphins late one night. Real Damien evil.

While I was living in Taipei, I paid taxes. Once every year I had to go to the tax office, submit my paystubs and fill out paperwork – all for a little slip of paper which I then had to show to an officer in the immigration office clear across town. The paper basically said that if I had worked any jobs while I was living in Taiwan, I have complied with the law. It was a nerve-wracking experience, since as an illegal, I was completely subject to the whims of any official with whom I had dealings.

I dreaded that future day when these two grey bureaucratic government offices would merge their databases.

Having a murky illegal status can be rough, and there were always stories about expats who had gotten kicked out of the country for some stupid mistake when negotiating the bureaucratic process. I once had to bribe an Indian official in Luknow in order to get a visa extension, but that’s the nearest brush with an immigration official I have had while traveling. I consider myself very lucky, especially when I see the hate spewed by some of these so-called patriotic groups masquerading as a vigilante border patrol in this country.

Despite these few experiences, being in a foreign country was always amazing, and everywhere I went people were very friendly and generous. I once got turned around at a train station, and I sheepishly asked someone in very broken Chinese which side of the platform I should be on, only to have him escort me all the way to my destination. He played host the entire journey, asking me about which of the scenic sites in Taiwan I’d already seen, and making recommendations about places that I really should visit in the future.

I had the owner of a hotel in rural Nepal take me to a medical clinic and insist on paying for my treatment when I became ill with dysentery, all based on my friend of a friend of a friend status (and nothing to do with culpability).

I experienced many other examples of simple human kindness while traveling, and I’d like to believe that visitors to the U.S. are treated the same way here that I was treated there. Unfortunately, with all scapegoating of illegal aliens and foreign workers by Republicans desperately trying to whip up a xenophobic wave that they can ride into the next presidency, I’m not very optimistic.

So I present this as another facet of the immigration debate, since there are many Americans living abroad who benefit from a more generous attitude towards immigration than we have in the US, and maybe some of you will listen out of self-interest…

With regard to the way that we treat visitors to this country, the GOP is simply amplifying concerns about immigration to a fever pitch as a way of stirring up racial animosity and divisiveness, and I can’t help but think back to my experiences and how differently I was treated. What price do we pay for a closed border if it makes us suspicious, hostile bigots in the process?

PS. Welcome X-Men!

Youth generated media

Taking a break from national politics, I wanted to share something cool I’ve been developing…

At work, I’m helping our teen staff to set up and run a radio station of sorts, using Rogue Amoeba’s Nicecast software, iTunes and our internal LAN. Right now our most pressing concerns are happily related to finding suitable mics for the DJs to use, and setting up a process (music tribunals!) by which we collectively decide whether songs are suitable or not for a kid-friendly space.

It’s also possible to webcast the stream, but recent changes to the way music royalties are calculated for internet radio is a huge disincentive. As a possible alternative music source, I am looking forward to seeing what WFMU’s Free Music Archive has to offer when it launches later this year.

Zeum’s first podcasts are have also gone live on iTunes, with all the content created by visitors to our clay animation studio. Here’s the link (will open iTunes app). We’ll be adding content regularly.

Media Monday

I just uploaded a couple of web galleries with iPhoto. One contains images from Long Story, a painting series in progress. These are definitely not glamour shots, but basic, utilitarian photos. I took some of them this afternoon with my phone, then uploaded them directly to the web.

The other gallery I’m calling urban eclectic, basically just recent photos that I’ve taken that I like, or that reveal the character of a place. So far there are only pics of San Francisco and Russia (including the above image of graffiti from outside a military building in Moscow), but I’ll be adding more, especially since I can do it on the go.

Last but not least, Zeum’s first podcast goes live on iTunes in the next few days. It’s a series of twelve clay animation movies created by visitors as part of a workshop, Claycast 101. I’ll be running another Claycast 101 workshop at Zeum on June 14th from 2-4pm, and will have additional clay animations to publish soon.

San Francisco: Now and Then

I ran into filmmaker Sam Green outside an exhibit of George and Mike Kuchar’s work the other night at 2nd Floor Projects, a small but impressive gallery run out of artist Margaret Tedesco’s second floor apartment.

I know both Sam and Margaret from a while back; in the mid-nineties, I worked on some of the earliest designs for Sam’s film, The Weather Underground, and Margaret and I first met through one of the women I worked with at the Roxie Cinema.

I first got hired at the Roxie in 1989, eight months after I’d moved here, and just before the Loma Prieta earthquake. San Francisco was a much different place back then – the amazing spectacle of Jerome casually walking down 16th Street in custom high heels with webbed feet, the Crystal Pistol bar, Mr. Charm, ACT-UP and Queer Nation, Scarlett Harlot showing up at protests in a beautiful American flag dress, a critical mass of creatives and a young punk roommate who would make her own tofu…

I may post more about what I saw from the Roxie’s plexiglass ticket booth in the future, if there’s an interest. I could easily write a series of posts about the antics of film maker/performance artist/former San Franciscan Nao Bustamante, who has her film, Untitled #1 (from the series Earth People 2507) playing this week at Sundance (precedes Half Life Jan 22, 25, 26).