Tag Archives: San Francisco

Don’t Miss This Band: The Family Crest

26 Jan
photo courtesy of Ryan Chua

A little while back I was driving home from a friend’s party while tuned in to CALX, the UC Berkeley radio station, and I was immediately intrigued by the performance that evening, broadcasted live from their studio.  So much so, that long after arriving home I stayed inside the car just so that I could hear the remainder of the show without interruption.  And when it was finished, I did exactly what any other music enthusiast would have done:  I raced inside, I made a bee-line to my computer and I Googled the little chickadees!  During my initial research, I found that The Family Crest had an upcoming show at Cafe du Nord.  Needless to say, five clicks later (thanks, technology) two tickets were mine!

Blown away is sort of an understatement when speaking about this performance. Part indie-rock, part European folk music (I think I detected a little bit of Klezmer in a song or two), and 100% pure joy, this is a band of true entertainers and passionate musicians, whose love for their craft is both palpable and infectious.  Each of the seven band members were a blast to watch, most of whom switched effortlessly from one instrument to another (guitar, flute, cello, trumpet, and the vibes, to name a few) provided backup vocals, and all of whom thoroughly, sincerely, and unabashedly Rocked Out.  Also thrown in the mix were a number of random musicians who kept popping out of the audience throughout the show – a violinist here, an opera singer there – including an entire horn section, concealed behind the coat check, only becoming known to the audience after simultaneously joining in on one of the first songs of the set.  The surprises just kept coming!

Lead singer Liam McCormick is a vocal virtuoso – a cross between Jeff Buckley and Chet Baker at times, with an unbelievable range, power and genuine soulfulness that is one in a million.  This is of course, not to overshadow McCormick’s skills as a lyricist.  The guy is a true poet and a storyteller; a refreshing quality among a vast sea of local singer/songwriters whose words tend to underwhelm.   Combined with the group’s talent as a whole (really, every single member is so incredibly talented, and each one of them shines on stage), their energy, synchronisity, chemistry and phenomenal stage presence moved the entire crowd to dance, clap, stomp, and at times even sing along.   I am so grateful to have caught them when I did, because there isn’t a doubt in my mind that they are going to BLOW UP… and soon!

The Family Crest is currently  on tour, so for the next couple of months they won’t be playing in SF, but I highly encourage you to check out their music in the meantime, and definitely plan on seeing them perform at least once!  I promise, they will not disappoint.  I will be standing by when they return home, only this time, rather than an intrigued newcomer I will be a full-fledged F-A-N. 🙂  Cheers to a band that uplifts and inspires…keep it coming, guys!


“New” Bay 2 Breakers…Love it or Hate it?

16 May

I don’t know about anyone else, but I had a GREAT time yesterday at the 100th edition of Bay to Breakers!  I went as part of the SFSMILES crew (that’s the start-up non-profit that I am involved in, in case you haven’t read some of my earlier posts about us).  Dressed in our wackiest mix of red, black and white to match our logo, we marched the streets of San Francisco with thousands of others, our SFSMILES banner proudly in hand, completely stoked and ready to spread the word about our one-year-old charity.

I have to give it up to this year’s race organizers and PR team (congrats to David Perry, who was hired by Zazzle to promote this year’s new- and much opposed- rules), they did a great job of keeping the event more organized, clean, and dry (sans alcohol, that is).  That being said, it still seemed like there was an abundance of revelers openly drinking in the streets, and many race-goers (myself included) who managed to slip in an out of the race rather freely, despite being unregistered and secured in for the most part, behind barricades.  There were only a few small hurdles we had to overcome, such as staff checking registration numbers on the way back in from the port-a-potties-something we easily avoided by simply slipping through an open gap in the gate a few yards down.   Also, I did refrain from carrying alcohol in my backpack, for fear of the dreaded check-points that had been so highly publicized  in the weeks leading up to the race.  However, a few blocks after joining in around Hayes and Scott Streets, it became clear that I had absolutely nothing to be worried about, and could easily have swung by a corner store for a fifth of Jameson, had I really wanted to.

So… much nudity as usual (wouldn’t be SF without several sightings of wrinkled old hoo-hoos!), and the same unique, outrageous, inventive costumes that have donned race-goers for years.  What was missing in my opinion, were the team floats!   I have to say, this was a shame.  It was hard for me to imagine a B2B without these fun little spectacles, and once it actually happened, there was definitely an ominous void in their place.  (It is also much more difficult to get any attention as a group; it’s kinda hard to stand out in a wild costume when everyone else and their mother is wearing one as well!)


All of that said, I personally didn’t  miss any of the super sloppy drunkenness (probably because there was still a lot of it going on) or vomiting in the streets that have always been less than desirable side-effects of B2B.  San Franciscans were just as spirited, fun and crazy as they have always been, and I think yesterday’s race proves that they always will be- no matter what rules are imposed upon them!

Trinh Mai: Paintings to Get Lost In (Tomorrow in SF!)

27 Apr

They Come For Me, 2009, mixed media on canvas, 40 x 90" triptych

I am absolutely infatuated with this woman’s artwork.  I came across some thumbnail images of Trinh Mai’s paintings on Facebook, and was immediately transfixed.  Upon visiting her Facebook page I proceeded to squander over an hour of my evening just scrolling through her creations one by one, completely mesmerized.  There is a dreamy, ethereal quality to her art (which includes some beautiful ceramic pieces as well) that I find extremely soothing.  Even the music on her website is calming and seductive (think sexy bossa-lounge).  I just love her use of stencils in several pieces, like this one:

Says The Crow II, 2010, mixed media 6 x 6"

You can check out her goods in person tomorrow, at a benefit for the Japanese Red Cross Relief Effort at Mina Dresden Gallery @ 312 Valencia Street in San Francisco (see below for details).

In the meantime, I highly recommend visiting her site www.trinhmai.com.

Thank you, Trinh, for allowing the use of these images in my blog.  Please keep your beautiful work coming!  🙂


Killing My Lobster Kills It

8 Apr

So, so, so very excited for Sunday night!  I know, I know… Sunday isn’t usually the evening of choice, as it does precede the dreaded Monday morning.  However, this Sunday night in particular I am going to see Killing My Lobster‘s new show, and that makes it a night to look forward to.  Some of you have never even heard of these guys, and others have likely heard the name over the past few years in San Francisco, but have yet to attend a show.  Well I am here to say, I HIGHLY encourage it.

Killing My Lobster is a comedic performance troupe based in San Francisco.  Yes, it is true, there are many “performance troupes” in the Bay Area, and even more amateur comedians floating about, and I have definitely been put through more than one show that’s made me want to jump from the theater window, but this one is different, I promise!  San Francisco agrees, voting for KML as “best comedy group” in SF Weekly this past June.

Killing My Lobster’s sketch comedy shows consist of wildly hilarious and multi-talented performers showcasing live music, multimedia performance, and zany costumes.   From monologues, to original songs, to audience interaction, their shows are consistently laugh-out-loud funny, smart, and insightful.  There is always a common theme throughout, pulled from current pop-culture and societal topics: the last show I attended revolved around the question:  what does it mean to be an “artist”?  From a musical number about a group of “arts administrators” with day jobs at Pasta Pomodoro, to an awesomely inappropriate spoof on Georgia O’Keefe‘s early years, I could barely catch my breath, I was in such a fit of giggles the entire time.  Coming up:

Killing My Lobster Reboots: Comedic vignettes for the technologically titillated.

“Hop on your hoverboard and scoot over to the Mission for our newest show, Killing My Lobster Reboots. San Francisco’s favorite sketch group serves up some serious giggle-bytes in this timely toast to technology. Highlights include the shocking truth behind the elevator’s “close door” button, the adventures of Facebook’s most notorious over-poster, and a brand new invention KML Scienticians know will change our lives forever. We’ll have you laughing so hard, you’ll HTTP your pants!”- http://www.killingmylobster.com

The show lasts through April 24th.  I tried getting tickets for Saturday night, and it was sold out, so I’d hurry up and reserve them now if I were you!

April 7–24, The Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida Street @ Mariposa, San Francisco

Rare Device, Indeed!

7 Apr

Just discovered the sweetest little store in San Francisco! Design lovers, unite and head straight to Rare Device. Their website says it best: “Rare Device is, simply, good stuff for you, your home and your kids.”  Full of modern, whimsical, and unique pieces from home decor to stationery to accessories, this is the kind of shop at which I fear I could blow an entire paycheck in just one visit!

Dedicated to supporting designers and artisans, as of April 1st, the shop also includes 3 Fish Studios, a gallery featuring up-and-coming artists on the scene.  I am loving this one-of-a kind collage featured in their most recent show!

It is obvious that the owners have really gone the extra mile to purchase products with the modern San Franciscan in mind.  On this note, their website has a very cool feature where you can filter their products by such forward-thinking categories as recycled, organic, handmade, local, independent and customizable.

It’s so über hip I can only wonder if one must don those thick black plastic eyeglasses the kids are wearing nowadays, in order to gain access to the store? 😉

Rare Device is located at 1845 Market Street in San Francisco.

banh mi = the BOMB!

5 Apr
Bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich) and Bánh cuốn. B...
Image via Wikipedia

A few years ago I was lucky enough to spend a year living in Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam.  While I have many fond memories of Southeast Asia, I can say without a doubt that one of the things I miss the most is the food!  Each and every meal I devoured that year was completed by either myself or one of my fellow diners holding our bellies and exclaiming with the utmost certainty, “This is the best thing I have ever tasted!”  and then, “No…no,  I know I said that last time, but really…this is the best thing I have ever tasted!”

I attribute some of that to the fact that the produce and meat served in that part of the world is more or less free of all of the crap we add to it here in America. (Proving my point, after moving back to the US it took me about a month to be able to keep any significant amount of food down.  I guess my body had to readjust to all the preservatives?)  I think the other part of the equation is quite simply the creative pairing of ingredients; items that we  would never even think to combine are tossed together to create some of the most unique and mouth-watering dishes I’ve ever tried.

One of my favorite imports (not to mention the simplest and cheapest to prepare)- and luckily, one that they do pretty damn well here in the Bay Area- is banh mi: a Vietnamese-style sandwich that is to die for.  I spotted this recipe from one of the best little VN sandwich shops in the Bay Area and it started making me super nostalgic for my time abroad…not to mention super hungry!

If you don’t feel like trying this out on your own, check the link below this recipe for a list of some of the best banh mi shops in the Bay!

Little Vietnam Cafe’s Banh Mi Ga

Makes about 6 1-cup servings

This tiny shop in San Francisco’s Richmond District serves one of the best Vietnamese chicken sandwiches in the Bay Area. Rather than shredded chicken, the cafe uses whole chicken thighs marinated in a 5-spice dressing. While great in sandwiches, the chicken can also be used in salads and stir-fries.

  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, butterflied
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon 5-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground tumeric

Instructions: Wash and dry chicken thighs; set aside. Combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, 5-spice powder and turmeric in a medium-size bowl. Add the chicken thighs and coat to marinate pieces evenly. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

Prepare a grill. Once ready, grill chicken for about 10 to 12 minutes on each side, until done, basting chicken twice with leftover marinade. Remove from grill, transfer to a plate, and use in banh mi, salad or over rice.

The calories and other nutrients absorbed from marinades and syrups vary and are difficult to estimate. Therefore, this recipe contains no analysis.

Pickled Daikon & Carrots

Makes about 2 cups

These pickled vegetables are at the heart of every Vietnamese sandwich. Sweet, tangy and crunchy, they also make a fantastic condiment for grilled meats. It’s worth the extra time to julienne the vegetables – it makes for a nice crunch. These will keep up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 pound daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup hot water

Instructions: Place the cut carrots and daikons in a large mixing bowl; sprinkle with the salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Toss and let sit for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to give. Rinse and drain the vegetables in a colander, then place them in a 1-quart jar.

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar, vinegar and water in a medium-size mixing bowl; stir to dissolve. Pour the brine into over the vegetables, fully submerging the vegetables. Let stand for about an hour. After that, store in the refrigerator. The vegetables are best after several days of brining.

The calories and other nutrients absorbed from brines vary and are difficult to estimate. Therefore, this recipe contains no analysis.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/01/FDD11IMIU9.DTL&ao=2#ixzz1IbLVvqIu

Mystery Solved…Sorta.

26 Mar


So, you may remember my posting Whodunnit?! from back in January, about the mysterious and delightful koi fish stencils that have been popping up all over SF’s sidewalks.  Well, last night I was in the beautiful Castro (or was it Hayes Valley?  not sure), having after-dinner drinks with my lovely friends at The Orbit Room, when one of my- ahem- readers (thank you, Jim) pointed out the aquatic wonders yet again.  Sprawled out under our feet in front of the entrance, leading into and scattered about on the floor inside were clusters of my awesome little orange and gold friends.  I was so happy to see them again!  And these looked much brighter and more recently applied than those I previously photographed in the Mission (everything is more beautiful in the Castro, isn’t it?).

I asked the bartender if he knew the identity of the artist, as surely they would have needed permission to paint on the establishment’s floors, but he had no idea.  “Some guy,”  he told me.  oooooh… I just love a good mystery.

Well, how completely lame do I feel when I Google “koi, sf, sidewalk” this morning, and find a multitude of links about the artist- most of them dated all the way back in November?  

(Long silence)  Heh.

I guess my mystery was really no mystery at all, just  ignorance on my part, to think that such a project would be anything less than newsworthy.  Even though I have to admit to my naiveté, I am nonetheless completely satisfied that this project and its creator are getting the coverage and the recognition that they deserve.

So now…  the moment you’ve all been waiting for…  (que drumroll)…  the person responsible?  Jeremy Novy, an SF based stencil artist (hailing from Milwaukee, WI).  Novy is a notable activist in the gay community and a total renegade in the urban arts scene, whose work has been featured in museums, private collections, and city streets across the nation.  My koi fish?  Um, yeah…those led to a feature in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  Guess I must have missed that one. 

You can check out some of his other work at the following locations:

Thank you Jeremy, for continuing to brighten my days with your work. 🙂

SF Artist Jeremy Novy thrives | :: Stencil Archive ::