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The Gold Dust Lounge in San Francisco is History: Tourist Bar to Move to Fisherman’s Wharf


The Gold Dust Lounge will shut its doors Wednesday, May 23, and move into a new location at Fisherman’s Wharf sometime in the next four months, according to a source close to the bar.

A press conference will be held at 2:30 Wednesday at the bar, 247 Powell St., to announce that the bar and lounge will fold its tent and move to an undisclosed location at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Recently, the bar was sued by its landlord, the Handlery family, which owns the building where the bar is situated for failing to abide by the terms of its lease and staying beyond the term of its lease.  The bar and its owners, the Bovis brothers, lost a series of legal rulings this past week that sealed its fate.

The Gold Dust tried to use public relations tactics to overcome the fact that the bar didn’t have a lease.  One of its previous attempts to remain on Powell Street was to seek historic status from the City of San Francisco, but the bar suffered a setback when the Historic Preservation Commission decided against granting it landmark status.

Supporters of the 47-year-old bar near Union Square hoped the designation would help save the business from being evicted by the building’s owners, the Handlery family. Next, the bar’s supporters sought help from Supervisor Christina Olague, who said she planned to introduce legislation that would override the agency, whose members said the bar had cultural significance but did not meet criteria for historic landmark designation.

But the supervisor changed her mind. She told the board she’d “respect the process” and stay out of the fight.

The day after the Historic Preservation Commission’s ruling, attorneys for the Handlery family filed a lawsuit against Jim and Tasios Bovis, who run the bar, accusing them of intentionally breaching their contract. The Bovises, in turn, sued their landlords, saying they were intimidated into signing their contract.

The battle over the watering hole started in December last year, when the Handlery family, who wants to put an Express store in the Gold Dust’s space, exercised a clause in its lease and gave the Bovises three months to clear out. The Bovises refused to leave.

At that time, Lee Houskeeper, a spokesman for the Bovises, said bar supporters would appeal the Historic Preservation Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors within a month. But the bar never did.

At that time, Houskeeper bragged: “We’re going to keep pouring,” he added. “We’re not going anywhere soon.”

But the Bovises and Houskeeper changed their tune this week after the bar lost a series of three important legal decisions this past week to the Handlery family.

Now the tourist bar is moving to a tourist location, Fisherman’s Wharf, where it can continue to pour drinks like it has since 1966, when the Bovises first started the lounge in the Handlery building on Powell Street.

The biggest question is why the Bovises (and their mouthpiece Houskeeper) didn’t move in the first place, except that they would have lost the publicity and income that comes from flogging a dying bar.  And, of course, who in San Francisco doesn’t like a good ‘ol tenant landlord dispute? It only makes everyone drink more. Just ask the Bovis’ attorney Joe Cotchett who got his hat handed to him by the court and led to the bar finally giving up the ghost and moving to Fisherman’s Wharf.  He will most likely be drowning his loss with a few drinks at the Gold Dust Bar in its final hours, courtesy of the Bovis brothers, no doubt.

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Mayor Lee renames street in Golden Gate park in honor of Nancy Pelosi

On Monday afternoon Mayor Edwin M. Lee participated in a ceremonial renaming of Middle Drive East in Golden Gate Park in honor of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to celebrate her 25 years of public service to our City and its residents. Leader Pelosi represents California’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes most of San Francisco including Golden Gate Park, Bayview to Bernal Heights, Chinatown to the Castro, the Mission to the Marina, and North Beach to Noe Valley. In her 25 years of service, Leader Pelosi has transformed San Francisco by preserving public lands and parks, expanding transit, protecting the Bay and the environment and ensuring affordable housing.

“San Franciscans have benefitted immensely from Leader Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, passion and commitment to San Francisco and our nation,” said Mayor Lee. “She is a trailblazer who has fought for the residents of our City from jobs to healthcare and HIV/AIDS to affordable housing and a more sustainable environment to critical infrastructure and transportation funding that we will celebrate for many generations to come.”

Middle Drive East is the main pathway to some of the most celebrated destinations in Golden Gate Park including the National AIDS Memorial Grove, California Academy of Sciences, Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, popular family recreation sites. All these locations attest to Leader Pelosi’s leadership and contributions to crucial social issues including the fight against HIV/AIDS across the nation and around the world, commitment to strengthening our school system, pressing for legislation to combat climate change and moving toward energy independence, and building an economy and a society that supports “families earning, children learning.”

“Leader Nancy Pelosi is celebrated as she leads the way to legislate pioneering initiatives that change our country,” said SF Recreation and Park Commission President Mark Buell. “It is befitting to rename a historic pathway within the celebrated Golden Gate Park destinations after Leader Pelosi.”

After the Army closed the Presidio of San Francisco, a former military post from 1776 to 1994, Leader Pelosi led the fight to preserve the Presidio for the residents of San Francisco and passed a bill creating the Presidio Trust, with the twin goals of preserving the essence of a magnificent national park and achieving economic self-sufficiency. Leader Pelosi’s work in the Presidio can be seen from the trails and overlooks, to the Main Parade Ground, with the Walt Disney Family Museum and Futures without Violence, along with the Letterman Digital Arts Center and the Japanese American Historical Society’s future Military Intelligences Service Historic Learning Center. Thanks to Leader Pelosi’s advocacy in securing millions in federal funds, the barren, broken asphalt of Crissy Field Air Field became Presidio’s spectacular front window to the San Francisco Bay with public walkways, restored dunes and wetlands, the Crissy Field Center and spectacular spaces for recreation beloved by people and dogs alike.

After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Leader Pelosi worked to ensure her constituents received timely assistance, joining her California colleagues to secure a $3.45 billion earthquake relief package, raising the Small Business Administration loan cap and leading efforts to restore City Hall and the American Conservatory Theater’s Geary Theater.

Leader Pelosi has fought to improve bus and rail transit, walking, biking, and transit-oriented development while creating vibrant livable communities. Over the past 25 years, she was instrumental in extending BART to the SFO Airport, creating the Third Street Light Rail and the Central Subway, securing $400 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds allowing the Transbay Transit Center to break ground, assisting the seismic and security upgrade of the Golden Gate Bridge, renovating Doyle Drive / Presidio Parkway, and putting San Franciscans back to work on these projects and through San Francisco JOB NOW!.

As an advocate for affordable housing and services for the homeless, Leader Pelosi has been critical in securing federal funds to rehabilitate public housing units at Hunters View, Sunnydale and Alice Griffith and was instrumental in the creation of Housing Opportunities for people with AIDS (HOPWA). She has also supported projects such as the Veterans Commons housing project at 150 Otis Street, renovating Nihonmachi Terrace in Japantown, the Kelly Cullen Community and clinic for the chronically homeless at 220 Golden Gate, and a new San Francisco Federal Building at Mission and 7thStreets, one of the greenest federal buildings in the country.

Since its closure by the U.S. Navy in 1974, the Hunters Point Shipyard has been a neglected and contaminated neighbor to the Bayview / Hunters Point Community. Leader Pelosi has helped secure over $750 million to clean up contamination and transform the former shipyard into a source of jobs and economic development, parks and open space and affordable housing for the community.

At Treasure Island, a man-made island in the Bay between San Francisco and Oakland, Leader Pelosi was crucial in finding a path forward to redeveloping the former Navy base, helping to secure an agreement that will allow the City to quickly move forward with substantial redevelopment plans that include essential infrastructure, open space, affordable housing and extensive commercial activities.

In 2007, Leader Pelosi was elected as the first woman in American history to serve as Speaker of the House, and under her leadership, the 111th Congress was heralded as “one of the most productive Congresses in history” by Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein. In the 111th Congress, Leader Pelosi also led the Congress in passing strong Wall Street reforms to rein in big banks and protect consumers as well as the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which expands educational opportunities and reforms the financial aid system to save billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

In addition, Leader Pelosi has made energy security her flagship issue, enacting comprehensive energy legislation in 2007 that raised vehicle fuel efficiency standards for the first time in 32 years and making an historic commitment to American home grown biofuels. Leader Pelosi passed into law groundbreaking legislation including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to restore the ability of women and all workers to access our judicial system to fight pay discrimination, legislation to provide health care for 11 million American children, national service legislation and hate crimes legislation.

In late 2010, Leader Pelosi led the Congress in passing child nutrition and food safety legislation as well as repealing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

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Mayor Lee’s Statement on the City’s unemployment drop to 7.4 percent

Mayor Edwin M. Lee issued the following statement on San Francisco’s unemployment rate dropping to 7.4 percent in April, the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008, based on preliminary unemployment numbers released today by the State Employment Development Department (EDD):

“Job creation remains my highest priority, and will remain so to continue our City’s economic recovery. As today’s unemployment report demonstrates, we are making significant progress putting people back to work in neighborhood small businesses, tech and innovation companies and active construction sites.

With the unemployment rate at 7.4 percent, the third lowest in the State and the lowest since December 2008, San Francisco is moving in the right direction, but our efforts to get people back to work will continue.

Already, this summer through Summer Jobs +, we are putting 5,000 youth to work and I am working hard to make sure all San Franciscans have access to good paying jobs as we keep our economy growing.”

Since January 2011, the unemployment rate has dropped steadily from 9.6 percent to 7.4 percent in April, reflecting the creation of approximately 22,500 net-new jobs in San Francisco over the last year, reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs and wage data for U.S. Counties. This report also found that jobs located in San Francisco County increased by 4.1 percent from September 2010 to September 2011 ranking San Francisco 10th in performance of the 323 largest counties in the nation.

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PHANTOMS OF ASIA – At the Asian Art Museum, through 9/2

Asian Art Museum organizes its first large-scale exhibition of contemporary art,

offering unique insight into Asian mythologies and belief systems

Sean Martinfield, Arts Contributor

The Asian Art Museum debuts Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past, an ambitious exhibition exploring the complex, diverse, cross-cultural perspectives of Asian cosmology and spirituality through a compelling interplay of 140 artworks from the past and present.

Phantoms of Asia – the first large-scale exhibition of contemporary art organized by the Asian Art Museum – fills its special exhibition galleries with artworks by living artists and integrates new works throughout the museum’s renowned pan-Asian collections. Providing visitors with immersive experiences, the exhibition offers rare insights into a range of belief systems and mythologies that have shaped Asian cultures over the ages.

On view May 18–September 2, 2012, and featuring more than 60 works by 31 contemporary artists, including Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japan/USA), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand), Adeela Suleman (Pakistan), Raqib Shaw (India), and Choi Jeong Hwa (Korea), alongside 90 objects from the museum’s collections—some dating back 2,000 years—Phantoms of Asia challenges visitors to view traditional objects not as relics of the past, but as vibrant connections to the present.
Click here for ticket information: Asian Art Museum

RAQIB SHAW. Absence of God VII, 2008

RAQIB SHAW. Absence of God VII, 2008

“The concept of phantoms—or ‘spirits’—is elusive, yet it’s felt and shared across cultures and time periods,” said Jay Xu, museum director. “Through its emphasis on interconnectivity, this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to experience those ‘invisible forces’ in a tangible, accessible, and provocative way, with Asian art at the center.”

Curated by Mami Kataoka, chief curator of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, in collaboration with Allison Harding, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Asian Art Museum, Phantoms of Asia is organized around four themes: (1) Asian Cosmologies: Envisioning the Invisible; (2) World, Afterworld: Living Beyond Living; (3) Myth, Ritual, Meditation: Communing with Deities; and (4) Sacred Mountains: Encountering the Gods.

The exhibition includes artworks by contemporary artists hailing from Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Tibet, and the U.S. Many of the contemporary installations are new or site-specific commissions. When combined with objects from the museum’s collections, these artworks represent a vast array of materials, forms and media, including works of stone, metal, fabric, wood, and modern materials; and masks, textiles, sculptures, ceramics, film and video, photographs, and paintings.

Expressing the museum’s new aspiration to “awaken the past and inspire the next,” the building itself will undergo a transformation to meet the full-scale challenges of the exhibition, starting with a 24-foot installation outside the museum, moving into the building’s public courtyards, and finally throughout the special exhibition and collection galleries.

CHOI JEONG HWA. Breathing Flower

CHOI JEONG HWA. Breathing Flower

Asian Cosmologies: Envisioning the Invisible
The exhibition begins with Choi Jeong Hwa’s (Korea) 24-foot red lotus (titled Breathing Flower) in Civic Center Plaza, across the street from the museum. With motorized bright red fabric leaves opening and closing, simulating the movement of a live lotus flower, the installation creates a link between the modern world and one of the most important cosmological symbols in Asia.

Inside the museum, Sun K. Kwak’s (Korea/USA) site-specific drawing made with masking tape dramatically transforms the museum’s North Court, manifesting invisible energies in the space. Kwak’s installation relies on the artist’s process of “lyrical meditation” to detect the subtle energies in the room, and serves to shift visitors’ consciousness from the mundane concerns of daily life to the spiritual/cosmological themes of Phantoms of Asia.

The exhibition then takes a look at the future, with Heman Chong’s (Singapore) installation, Calendars (2020–2096). One thousand and one calendar pages, each showing one of Chong’s photographs of public and domestic spaces, transfigure the installation space. Repetition, an imagined future time, and haunting stillness encourage meditation on being and absence, mortality and eternity.

Moving into Lee Gallery, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s (Japan/USA) Five-Elements series stands as a shrine to the origins of existence. Seven crystal pagodas resting on wooden plinths form a single, stark line across the gallery. Using geometric symbols from thirteenth-century Buddhism, Sugimoto encases a single image from his iconic Seascape series in each glass structure. The sea and air, origins of all life, are seen through a prism of ancient Buddhist views of the universe.

PALDEN WEINREB. Astral Invert, 2011

PALDEN WEINREB. Astral Invert, 2011

In Hambrecht Gallery, several objects from the museum’s collections present traditional Asian cosmographic symbols. In one area, Chinese bronze mirrors (some dating back to 480 BCE) depict the cosmos on their nonreflecting sides even as they reflect the real, earthly world on their polished surfaces. The mirrors orient viewers to Poklong Anading’s (Philippines) Anonymity series, where subjects hold mirrors to their faces to reflect flashes of light into the camera. With people’s faces obscured, Anading’s photographs ask viewers to consider how they construct personal and collective identity. In another section, Guo Fengyi’s (China) drawings map the flow of energy through the artist’s own nervous system. Influenced by her study of qigong, the drawings illustrate the experience of artistic practice as spiritual practice. Palden Weinreb’s (USA/Tibet) minimalist works (including paintings and light boxes) are meditations on existence and the universe: “Abstraction,” Weinreb suggests, “parallels the sublime emptiness of Buddhism.”

World, Afterworld: Living Beyond Living
Works in the next phase of the exhibition explore the connection between this life and the afterworld. The theme begins in Hambrecht Gallery with Araya Radsjarmrearnsook’s (Thailand) video installation, The Class, in which the artist gives a seminar on death to several shrouded corpses. Her lecture prompts our own contemplation: How do we speak about death? What do we envision in the afterworld?

Between Hambrecht and Osher Galleries, Jakkai Siributr’s (Thailand) Karma Cash & Carry depicts a spirit house similar to those found in the artist’s native country. Siributr’s work shows the intersection of modern-day animism, Buddhist practice, and material culture. Jompet’s (Indonesia) Anno Domini, an arrangement of colonial military uniforms hanging bodiless, reenacts traditional mythologies, symbolizing protection from the exigencies of modernization and colonization.

Also just outside Osher Gallery, Takayuki Yamamoto’s (Japan) San Francisco version of his ongoing video project, What Kind of Hell Will We Go To, documents the artist’s workshop with elementary school children from the Bayview area. After showing students the Kumano Kanjin Jikkai Mandala, a collection of traditional Japanese paintings depicting Buddhist notions of vice, virtue, and punishment, Yamamoto then encourages them to create and talk about cardboard dioramas representing their own ideas of hell. These dioramas are presented along with the video.

Myth, Ritual, Meditation: Communing with Deities
Marking the transition to the third theme, seventeen traditional masks greet visitors at the entrance of Osher Gallery. Masks play an integral role in ceremonies and rituals across many Asian cultures, and provide the context for Motohiko Odani’s (Japan) carvings. Odani’s SP Extra: Malformed Noh Mask Series: San Yujo transforms the surface of Noh masks to depict the sinew and flesh of the human face, exposing the vulnerable underside of the masks’ spiritual beauty.

JAGANNATH PANDA. The Cult of Survival II, 2011

JAGANNATH PANDA. The Cult of Survival II, 2011

Communication between humans, plants, and animals plays a part in the mythologies of many cultures. Several artists take up this theme in Osher Gallery. In Jagannath Panda’s (India) The Cult of Survival II, the artist symbolizes endless cycles of consumption and production in the form of a snake crafted from pipes. Adeela Suleman (Pakistan) uses stainless steel reliefs of natural objects—birds, flowers, trees—to act as storytellers. Interrupting these traditional motifs are contemporary images of death (including suicide vests), prompting awareness of the ever-present threat of violence and extinction and the transitory nature of all things.

Within the gallery, Adrian Wong (USA/Hong Kong) constructs two rooms following the precepts of feng shui (a system of geomancy that attempts to incorporate laws of heaven and earth), one auspicious and the other inauspicious. Using Korean ceremonial objects from the museum’s collection, Wong experiments with the space between spaces and challenges visitors to tune into nearly imperceptible harmonies and disharmonies.

Sacred Mountains: Encountering the Gods
Sacred mountains have a place of prominence in Hinduism and Buddhism, among other religions, and several artists working with this theme are featured in the second-floor Tateuchi Gallery. Lin Xue (China/Hong Kong) connects to a spiritual past through his paintings of imagined mountains, rendered with a sharpened bamboo twig. His Untitled 2010-9 takes experiences from mountainous landscapes to create newly imagined landscapes, such as an island floating among an ocean replete with marine life. Aki Kondo’s (Japan) newest work, which depicts mountain deities, was motivated by the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

AKI KONDO. Detail, Mountain Gods, 201

AKI KONDO. Detail, Mountain Gods, 201


Exploring the same theme, but located in the Korean gallery on the second floor, Bae Young-whan’s (Korea) depictions of nature demonstrate a view of the body as a microcosm of the universe; for example, his installation of tiny ceramic mountain ranges echo the shape of his brain waves.


Partnering curator Kataoka suggests, “Asia is not a timeless construct,” but rather an ever-evolving concept that can “awaken a new awareness of our existence in this world.” Harding considers how the collection at the Asian Art Museum connects to art of today’s Asia and “how these traditional and contemporary objects can reveal new aspects of each other.”

To express these points of view, regional artists’ works are situated among traditional objects in the museum’s region-specific galleries, including Raqib Shaw’s (India/UK) hedonistic, dreamlike canvases in the South Asian galleries. The Kashmiri artist fuses influences as diverse as Japanese screens, Mughal miniatures, and Hieronymus Bosch paintings. Shaw’s style is both opulent and fastidious: his materials include glitter, rhinestones, and industrial paint, all applied painstakingly with a porcupine quill.

In the Chinese Buddhist sculpture gallery, Charwei Tsai’s (Taiwan) minimalist works evoke meditations on the ephemeral. Tsai’s calligraphy of the Chinese characters of the Heart Sutra on organic, transitory materials—tofu, mushrooms, lotus leaves—are exercises in the Buddhist precept of nonattachment.

“We hope visitors will connect with the essence of creative activity in Asia, a region that is rapidly changing on the surface, but where ancient phantoms still linger and spread their spells,” said Kataoka.

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Mayor Lee announces City will protect HIV/AIDS funding and allocate $6.6 million to programs and services

HIV/AIDS Health Services & Prevention Funding Restored in City’s Budget After Major Federal Funding Cuts

Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined by Supervisors Scott Wiener, David Campos and Christina Olague has announced a total $6.6 million full budget restoration for HIV/AIDS care, treatment and prevention funding in FY 2012-13 to protect essential services to the City’s most vulnerable despite major Federal funding cuts. Mayor Lee has also committed to cover half of the Federal funding shortfall in his proposed FY 2013-14 budget and met with the HIV/AIDS community and Supervisors today to commit to collaborating in the coming year to identify budget solutions.

“San Francisco will continue to maintain investments in HIV/AIDS care, treatment and prevention, which reflect our values to care for our most vulnerable populations and prevent the spread of infection,” said Mayor Lee. “Despite continued budget challenges, we remain committed to funding critical care services for those living with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco. Our City will continue to be a model for the rest of the nation, and we will continue to work collaboratively with our local community partners to build greater efficiencies in providing services to protect against future destabilizing Federal cuts.”

“I’m deeply grateful to Mayor Lee for his understanding of the critical need for this funding and for his swift and decisive action restoring the Federal cuts,” said Supervisor Wiener. “I represent many people living with HIV or at risk for it. This funding will save lives and prevent new infections.”

“We are grateful for Mayor Lee’s leadership on funding critical HIV/AIDS programs and services that will save lives, ensure that basic HIV/AIDS services are provided to the most vulnerable and prevent the spread of the disease in our community,” said Supervisor Campos.

“I thank Mayor Lee for working closely with the Board of Supervisors and community advocates to take bold actions against potentially devastating impacts in our community,” said Supervisor Olague. “Every dollar that we restore is going to save lives and prevent another infection.”

“As Director of Health, I am pleased that the Mayor has taken the extraordinary step of bridging the gap in federal funding for HIV AIDS services,” said San Francisco Director of Health Barbara Garcia. “This will allow us to continue to address the health needs for people living with HIV/AIDS and those who are at risk for HIV/AIDS.”

“We are deeply grateful to the Mayor for his bold decision to use City funds to fully replace Federal HIV/AIDS funding cuts that would have destabilized San Francisco’s nationally recognize system of care and prevention.  His leadership will help thousands of San Franciscans continue to access HIV/AIDS treatment services and will prevent the further spread of new infections,” said San Francisco HIV/AIDS Provider Network (HAPN) President Mike Smith. “In this time of decreasing state and federal funding, his action today reaffirms our City’s long-standing commitment to people with HIV/AIDS.”

The $6.6 million in funding restoration in the San Francisco budget reflect a total budget impact from a $4.3 million Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act reduction to HIV/AIDS health services and a $2.3 million Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduction to HIV/AIDS prevention.

The $4.3 million Ryan White Care Act funding restoration will maintain primary care services and critical support services for San Franciscans living with HIV/AIDS, including hospice, treatment adherence, case management and housing. Maintaining these services is critical because San Francisco’s aging population living with HIV/AIDS is creating more complex conditions due to accelerated aging co-morbidity.  In addition, over half the people living with HIV/AIDS in San Francisco do not have private health insurance.

The $2.3 million CDC HIV/AIDS prevention funding restoration will maintain local surveillance, research, and prevention and evaluation activities and to build capacity and infrastructure to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. These activities are critically important because CDC estimates that about 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and that 21 percent of these persons do not know they are infected. In addition, the number of people living with AIDS is increasing, as effective new drug therapies keep HIV-infected persons healthy longer and dramatically reduce the death rate.

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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces Good News for California Drivers

Beginning mid-May, insurance premiums for Low Cost Auto Insurance program decrease up to 9% across California – biggest changes seen since 2009.

PR Newswire

As a result of the premium reductions, the statewide average cost of an annual Low Cost Automobile Insurance policy in California is now $257.69 a year and the premiums for all California counties are now less than $350 annually. The greatest changes in premiums are in the following counties: AlamedaContra CostaMarinSacramentoSan FranciscoSan JoaquinSan MateoSanta Clara,Stanislaus and Sutter.

“More than 4 million cars, or 15 percent of the cars on California roads, don’t have insurance,” Commissioner Jones said. “If financial limitations have kept consumers from purchasing car insurance, these changes make Low Cost Auto Insurance a more viable option for uninsured drivers.”

Established by the legislature in 1999, the CLCA program provides liability-only insurance for less than$350 a year, and the amount could be much less, depending on the county where the consumer lives.

Drivers may qualify if they:

  • have a good driving record
  • are at least 19 years old
  • have been continuously licensed to drive for three years
  • own a vehicle valued at $20,000 or less
  • meet the income eligibility requirements ($27,925 for one person, $37,825 for two people, up to$57,625 for a family of four)

California‘s Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program was established to provide income eligible persons with liability insurance protection at affordable rates as a way to meet California‘s financial responsibility laws. To learn more about the program, consumers can call 1-866-602-8861, visit or text “low cost” to 65374. For a full list of the new annual insurance premiums for each of the 58 counties visit the website.

And to assist more California drivers, the Low Cost Web site is now offered in Spanish. The website address is:

Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Out-of-state callers, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

SOURCE California Department of Insurance

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A 5,300 square foot warehouse in Dogpatch has been turned into one of the largest ballroom dance studios in San Francisco. Vima Dance Studio relocated to the new space on 26th Street at Third on April 1, 2012, quadrupling its dance space.

The studio plans to host a grand opening party on Saturday, June 14th at 8:00 p.m.

“There has been a huge upswing in interest in ballroom dance since shows like Dancing with the Stars began,” according to Vima owner Photis Pishiaras. “Over the past several years there has been an obvious need for more space to accommodate the growing Bay Area dance community.”

Pishiaras spent two months renovating the warehouse space, adding new flooring, mirrors and a new sound system. The new space includes a competition-size dance floor as well as several smaller dance floor areas. He envisions that the space will be able to nearly triple the numbers of Vima students as well accommodate larger dance showcases, social dances and competitive events.

Vima offers both social and competitive dance instruction. Classes include Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep, Salsa, Rumba, Cha-Cha, East Coast Swing,

West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, Nightclub Two-Step, Bolero, Samba, Mambo, Merengue, Hustle, Country Western and Argentine Tango. The studio offers private and semi-private lesson, group classes and wedding dance instruction.

The studio also hosts a weekly social dance every Thursday at 9:00 p.m.

For additional information, contact Vima at 415.977.0203 or visit the website at

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Mayor Lee Announces Plan to Support Local Manufacturing Industry

Five-Point Local Manufacturing Plan Proposes: Manufacturing One Stop; Coordinated Marketing Effort for

San Francisco Made Products & Continued Investment to Support Local Manufacturers

As part of the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget proposal, Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced a five-point plan to support San Francisco’s local manufacturing industry during SFMade Week. According to SFMade, a local nonprofit that assists and supports the vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco, the City is home to more than 325 manufacturing firms employing 3,000 people.

“San Francisco is becoming a national model for innovative local urban manufacturing,” said Mayor Lee. “We are working with SFMade to provide a focused effort and demonstrate our commitment to manufacturers in San Francisco who continue to thrive and produce not only great products, but also great jobs for San Franciscans.”

“San Francisco – a City that melds the cultures of design, making, and technology – is a natural home for the next chapter of US urban manufacturing,” said SFMade Executive Director Kate Sofis. “The Mayor’s manufacturing plan will help ensure a vibrant manufacturing sector, sustain jobs for a diverse cross-section of residents, fuel economic diversity, and helps ensure that San Francisco will remain at the forefront of innovation.”

Mayor Lee’s local manufacturing plan would:
• Create a manufacturing desk in the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The City’s manufacturing desk would serve as a single point of contact for manufacturing businesses assisting with everything from accessing incentive programs to navigating the City’s permit process;
• Focus on key sectors where San Francisco is well positioned to compete and succeed. The manufacturing plan builds on the lessons of FashionSF—the City’s initiative focused on supporting the retention and growth of apparel manufacturers and fashion designers—and would focus on sector such as food and beverage, consumer products, and rapid prototyping;
• Continue to invest in local manufacturers to support job retention and creation through continued support of groups such as SFMade. In 2011, support from the City and other partners allowed SFMade to serve 75 manufacturers, supporting more than 500 blue collar jobs;
• Work to ensure San Franciscans get connected to local manufacturing jobs, which provide employment opportunities for people of all education levels, particularly those without a four year college degree;
• Work with local manufacturers to launch a coordinated marketing campaign to promote San Francisco made products around the world by capitalizing on the City’s 70 foreign consulates, 20 trade offices, 18 Sister City programs, hundreds of international firms and millions of annual visitors.

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FAIRMONT HOTEL – Oaktree Capital Management and Woodridge Capital Partners Purchases Historic Hotel for Nearly $200 Million

The world renowned Fairmont San Francisco Hotel atop Nob Hill was sold today for close to $200 million to a consortium led by an affiliate of Oaktree Capital Management LP and real estate investor Michael Rosenfeld and his Woodridge Capital Partners LLC. The hotel was purchased from Maritz, Wolff & Co., which acquired its investment in the hotel in 1998 in partnership with Kingdom Holding, which is retaining its interest. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, based in Toronto, Canada, will continue to manage the storied hotel.

The Fairmont San Francisco opened in 1907. The Beaux Arts-style building was designed by New York architectural firm McKim, Mead & White and Julia Morgan, also well known for her design of Hearst Castle. Over its 105-year history, it has been home to many “firsts” from the drafting of the United Nations Charter to Tony Bennett’s premier of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. The Fairmont was home to America’s first concierge, and since its opening, has served as the San Francisco residence for U.S. presidents, world leaders and entertainment stars.

fairmont-hotel1THE FAIRMONT
John Brady, head of global real estate for Oaktree Capital Management, said, “We look forward to joining Oaktree’s significant real estate experience and an investor base that includes prominent public and corporate pension funds together with longstanding relationships with Woodridge, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Kingdom Holding and our new partners – the hotel’s outstanding employees and the City of San Francisco, one of the truly great cities of the world.”

With 591 guest rooms and suites and over 55,000 square feet of conference and function space, the hotel is renowned for its three restaurants and lounges including the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar with its thunderstorms and floating stage. Its location at 950 Mason Street atop Nob Hill offers spectacular views of the city and the Bay, and is the only spot in San Francisco where each of the city’s cable car lines meet.

Michael Rosenfeld stated: “The Fairmont San Francisco hotel’s rich history, elegance and beauty make it a one-of-a-kind property that cannot be replicated today. We are excited to be in such a distinguished partnership with a property that symbolizes the great City of San Francisco.”

Oaktree is a leading global investment management firm focused on alternative markets, with $77.9 billion in assets under management as of March 31, 2012. The firm emphasizes an opportunistic, value-oriented and risk-controlled approach to investments in distressed debt, corporate debt (including high yield debt and senior loans), control investing, convertible securities, real estate and listed equities. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the firm has over 650 employees and offices in 13 cities worldwide. For more information visit: OaktreeCapital

Woodridge Capital Partners, headed by its CEO Michael Rosenfeld, is a Los Angeles based real estate investment and development company with hotel, residential and commercial assets throughout the United States. Woodridge and Rosenfeld have been active in the real estate industry for more than 25 years. Rosenfeld also has other hotel interests with Oaktree, including the iconic Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, and the recently acquired Fairmont Orchid Resort on the famed Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.

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Oakland, CA – – A unique social introduction service begins this week to offer the 51 million singles over the age of 40 in the United States opportunities to give back to their communities while meeting one another in a natural, non-threatening environment.Matches that Matter introduces small, compatible groups of 6 men and 6 women with similar interests to work together on projects at local nonprofit organizations. The group meets together in a series of three meetings (called a Flight), the initial awkwardness goes away and relationships more easily bloom.

“Our three years of research that lead to the model for Matches that Matter showed us that the needs of the over-40 single are very different from younger singles,” according to Odette Pollar, company Founder. “Traditional ways this group met dating partners when they were in their 20s and 30s are less available today or carry a negative or superficial image, like bars or online profile sites.

Pollar worked diligently over a three-year period on an ongoing research project to reveal the needs of single people over 40 as they approach dating and finding a meaningful relationship. She ran dozens of gender split focus groups to discuss dating experiences, dating services, and expectations of the over-40 single person. Further interviews with therapists, sociologists, matchmakers and relationship coaches helped to refine the model for understanding how couples create and sustain healthy relationships. She came away from this research with a “rules of the road” for successful dating in the 21st century and founded Matches that Matter.

All Matches That Matter participants have been professionally interviewed and undergone a background check as part of the enrollment and membership process. Everyone in the group has the time, energy and desire to meet like-minded singles. Plus, the nonprofit partner benefits from over 100 hours of volunteer activity with each Flight group sent to work on a project.

For additional information, contact Matches that Matter, 510/496-0040 or 888/813-7779.

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Mayor Lee and SFMTA announce 4-month Sunday Streets Mission Route Pilot

First of four consecutive monthly Sunday Streets Events along popular Mission route begins this Sunday as Pilot Program

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) today announced that this weekend’s Sunday Streets event will kick off a four-month pilot on the popular Mission route. Over the next four consecutive first Sundays of the month, residents can enjoy the 2.2-mile route along Valencia Street between Duboce Avenue and 24th Street and 24thStreet between Valencia and Hampshire Streets. The pilot will explore the feasibility of holding more frequent Sunday Streets events on this and other established routes.

“Sunday Streets showcases our City’s commitment to sustainability and innovation, and has also proven a cost-effective way to improve the health of San Franciscans,” said Mayor Lee. “We are committed to ensuring the program’s continued growth and success in 2012 and beyond.”

“San Francisco residents, merchants and visitors have enthusiastically embraced Sunday Streets and are consistently asking us for more of these kinds of programs,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin. “We are proud to introduce a new element to Sunday Streets by testing a regular car-free route through one of San Francisco’s most populated and diverse neighborhoods. During this pilot, we will be looking closely at how we can help create open spaces in communities like the Mission where park space is limited and support the many small businesses along the way.”

Sunday Streets Map, May 6th

Sunday Streets Map, May 6th

As the hosts of this popular event, business leaders, residents and community organizations play a significant role in presenting diverse and engaging programs that embrace the area’s diverse cultural heritage. The Lower 24th Street Merchant and Neighbors Association and the Mission Merchant Association will host local performers, artists and community programs along 24th Street. Valencia merchants invite participants to explore the many unique shops, art galleries, eateries and community organizations located on this corridor.

Brava Theater, Casa Sanchez and businesses along the eastern portion of Lower 24th Street will enliven their area with performances and activities to encourage participants to travel the length of the route. Participants are invited to stop by Harrison Street between 24th and 25th streets to check out local cultural programming presented by LatinZone Productions and the Lower 24th Merchants.

Program highlights include:
• Live music and activities between Valencia Street at Duboce Avenue and Brava Theater on 24th and York streets
• Circus Center miniature circus show
• Free bike rentals by Parkwide LLC at Valencia and 15th streets, tune ups from Sports Basement’s Lube Fairies at 24th and Harrison streets and the SF Bicycle Coalition’s popular ‘Freedom from Training Wheels’ course at Valencia and 24th streets
• Programs for pets presented by Happy Hounds Massage at Valencia and 22ndstreets
• Dance, music and performances by Mission Cultural Center at 24th Street BART Plaza at 24th and Mission streets
• Capoera classes, DIY screenprinting and City Circus Acrobatics on Valencia Street between 14th and 15th streets
• Young Performers International, Stern Grove KidStage and other activities for kids in front of the Mission Public Library at 24th and Bartlett streets
• Classic Pedal Bike show and Bboy/Bgirl Hip Hop performances and lessons at 24thStreet and Treat Avenue
• Lowrider vehicle expo, featuring custom bicycles and cultural performances at Harrison and 24th streets.

Sunday Streets Neighbors
Although not on the car-free route, this year the McCoppin/Valencia Neighborhood Watch group will join their neighbors to the south by working with Off the Grid and the merchants along Valencia Street between Market Street and Duboce Avenue to offer fun and healthy programming and activities. Off the Grid will set up food trucks at the “McCoppin Hub” (on McCoppin Street, just west of Valencia Street), and Valencia merchants will feature live music, sales and special deals to participants.

While this area is not formally part of the Sunday Streets route—there will be vehicle traffic on these blocks of Valencia—Sunday Streets encourages participants traveling to the Mission via Market Street to check out additional programs at this end of the route.

Sunday Streets is presented by the SFMTA and Livable City, Sunday Streets’ nonprofit fiscal partner in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, San Francisco Police Department, Department of Public Works and the Recreation and Parks Department. The 2012 season is co-presented by Bank of America.

Sunday Streets Program Partners include the YMCA of SF, whose local branches help organize youth activities along each route; the California Outdoor Rollersports Association, founded and led by legendary D. Miles a.k.a. “The Godfather of Skate;” and free bike programs and services provided by Parkwide LLC, Mikes Bikes, REI and Sports Basement.

The following community organizations and businesses join Sunday Streets 2012 Presenting Sponsor Bank of America to provide financial support to Sunday Streets: AT&T, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Bi-Rite Markets, Blue Shield of California, The California Endowment, California Pacific Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Recology, Shape Up SF and United Healthcare Workers West. Major in-kind support is provided by The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, which provides emergency medical support, City CarShare and Parkwide LLC. The San Francisco Examiner and Clear Channel Radio are media sponsors. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition runs Sunday Streets’ volunteer program.

Sunday Streets 2012 Season Schedule
May 6: Mission
June 3: Mission
July 1: Mission
July 22: Bayview
August 5: Mission
August 26: Chinatown
September 9: Western Addition/N. Panhandle Alamo Square
October 21: Outer Mission/Excelsior

Click here for more information: SundayStreetsSF

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A CONVERSATION WITH GENNADI NEDVIGIN – Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet

Sean Martinfield, Arts Contributor

For Gennadi Nedvigin, a Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet, the 2012 season has been rich with opportunity. He delivered a stunning performance as “Lensky” in the Opening Night production of John Cranko’s Onegin. In Program 2 he was featured in the world premiere of Mark Morris’ all-male ballet, Beaux, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine. In Program 3 he appeared in Helgi Tomasson’s Trio which was set to music by Tchaikovsky. Even in the largest of ensembles Nedvigin’s electric energy is easily spotted and in an intimate pas de deux with such partners as Maria Kochetkova – he radiates crystalline strength and transcendent joy. When those qualities are channeled into the popular story ballets, he has mastered an array of determinate Royals – “Albrecht” in Swan Lake, “Desiré” in Sleeping Beauty, the “Nutcracker Prince” – and shines as the boy-next-door, “Franz” in Coppélia. In March he delivered a captivating interpretation of “Mercutio” in Romeo and Juliet. The role is notorious in the canon of Shakespeare’s plays, requiring first an actor of unconventional vitality followed by a long list of endowments that run from attractive to zany, all of which spin about in a character who has the soul of a poet, the endurance of a ladies’ man, the tenacity of a best friend, and a solid reputation for being the village inebriate. Tomasson’s choreography captures these attributes and Gennadi Nedvigin conveyed them with ease. This week, in the final production of Don Quixote, he is scheduled to dance the leading role of “Basilio” on Friday, May 4th, and the closing performance on Sunday afternoon, May 6th. Click here to purchase tickets on-line: DON QUIXOTE  GENNADI NEDVIGIN and MARIA KOCHETKOVA. Tomasson's "Trio".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN and MARIA KOCHETKOVA. Tomasson’s “Trio”. Photo, Erik Tomasson

The City’s golden gates were opened for ballet star Gennadi Nedvigin in March 1997 when Helgi Tomasson, Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet, handed him the opportunity of a lifetime – the kind served-up on the proverbial silver platter. From the time he was ten years old the young Russian-born dancer had trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School. Now he was on tour with Le Jeune Ballet de France and San Francisco was in its sights. The company would stay about two weeks, take classes with San Francisco Ballet, and collaborate on a number of pieces to be performed at the Palace of Fine Arts. After that, who knew? Gennadi needed a job and the curtain was coming down on this gig with the French company. A few years later, it completely folded.

“They always had young dancers,” he said, “not more than 20 years old. With Jeune Ballet de France you usually stayed for a year and then moved on. It was like a transitional company that helped young dancers get some practice, become stronger, learn new things and then head into a bigger company. Right after our last performance, Helgi was standing in the wings and asked if he could have a word with me. He said, “I have a contract to offer you – as a Soloist. Give it some thought and get back to me within two weeks.” I didn’t have to wait two weeks. I had never been in America before and the City was so beautiful. The weather was great, we were performing at the Palace of Fine Arts which is so romantic, and everything that surrounded me at the time was so enjoyable. So, I changed and went back to the reception. A lot of dancers from San Francisco Ballet were there, a lot of students – I didn’t realize everyone was watching me. I signed the contract right there and all of a sudden the champagne bottles started popping.”

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 3, "Coppelia".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 3, "Coppelia". Photo, Erik Tomasson

Three years later Gennadi was promoted to Principal Dancer. Since then, his continued openness to all things new and commitment to excellence has turned him into the consummate artist/dancer. But it was in this season’s opening production of John Cranko’s “Onegin” that Gennadi’s dramatic abilities took on a new dimension. Based on the classic novel by Alexander Pushkin and set to a collection of various works by Tchaikovsky, Gennadi portrayed “Lensky”, friend to the dashing and arrogant “Eugene Onegin” danced by Vitor Luiz. The second Act involves a party scene where the dazzling Onegin decides to alleviate his boredom by inviting Lensky’s fiancée Olga to dance. Onegin’s deeper motivation is to provoke Lensky by aggressively flirting with her. Olga is naïve and unaccustomed to such overt sexual energy, especially coming from someone who is obviously way out of her league. As they continue to dance, it is apparent to everyone that she is foolishly responding to Onegin and creating an atmosphere that has gone beyond inappropriate. Lensky fails to stop their dance and responds by challenging Onegin to a duel. By this point, not only had the dramatic tension risen to its highest point but so had the hot-blooded magnetism of the very-appealing Mr. Nedvigin. Like never before.

GENNADI NEDVIGIN and CLARA BLANCO in John Cranko's "Onegin".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN and CLARA BLANCO in John Cranko's "Onegin". Photo, Erik Tomasson

“Lensky has purer feelings,” he said. “He is sincere and genuinely mad. It’s basically a black and white situation, with Olga in-between them as “red” – the kind of woman that goes with one man and then with another. Audiences always have better feelings towards Lensky. I re-read the story before we started rehearsing. It is so dear to me. The hardest part for me was to find Lensky’s fragility and innocence and to actually bring those emotions to the stage. You don’t want to fake it or overplay it and then look ridiculous, because Lensky is a sincere soul. There are not many characters like this in ballet.”

“Sincerity must be the food of love then,” I responded, “because I’m sitting out there glaring at Olga (Clara Blanco) and thinking, “Fool! Why would you be throwing yourself at Onegin when you’ve got a lover like Lensky?”

Gennadi laughed. “Well, you know, as my girl says – ‘Girls always like the bad boys.’”

SARAH VAN PATTEN and GENNADI NEDVIGIN in Mark Morris’ "Joyride".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

SARAH VAN PATTEN and GENNADI NEDVIGIN in Mark Morris’ "Joyride". Photo, Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet has an international roster of world class dancers with varying gifts who can step-in for each other at a moment’s notice. Compared to European companies which may favor taller dancers in lead romantic roles, at San Francisco Ballet the look is about balance and perspective. It is not unusual within a course of nine performances of certain programs for there to be as many as five casting combinations. All of them are “star-studded”, each ensemble delivering an artistically remarkable product. Gennadi acknowledged my observation that artists here have the opportunity to flourish.

“In Europe, it’s usually the taller people who do principal parts,” he said. “I know if I were in Europe, I probably wouldn’t have been as fortunate to have danced as many of the leading roles in Classical ballets as I have here. It’s true. Here we are given the chance to do it. And I am so grateful.”

“With that leeway in mind,” I asked, “that everything is possible for you – what leading Classical role do you still dream about doing?”

“I would like to do a production of Sheherezade. Something like that. Not what our Company has ever done or maybe thought of doing. These ballets are very different – very different style, different color, and ethnicity. The roles are very different. It has a more Eastern style and approach. The character of the “Golden Slave” is not a prince, but more like the pirate in Le Corsaire. That’s what interests me – the opportunity to explore different types of characters. That’s why I enjoy the roles of Albrecht, Franz, and Lensky. They are all different. A Prince is a Prince. You’re doing different steps, but your character is pretty much the same everywhere.”

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 3, "Swan Lake".  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 3, "Swan Lake". Photo, Erik Tomasson

Along the way, I have missed seeing Gennadi as “Prince Albrecht” in Giselle. He recounted his adventure with a last-minute call to replace Joan Boada who’d had an injury and could not finish the rehearsal of Act II. Gennadi had not been scheduled into the role that season. Like riding a bike, does the choreography just stay in your body?

“I wasn’t upset. I’ve done the role. There were lots of casts. But I had to jump in because of his injury. We would be doing this Giselle in two days. I danced with Masha (Maria Kochetkova). I had been rehearsing something else at the time. They called me and said, “Can you come on stage, please?” It was during their first run-through. They were in the first Act and Joan was already starting to hurt, but they weren’t sure. I did the second Act – with only my memory of the performances from about three years before. It went pretty smooth. We had another rehearsal the following day and the day after that we did the performance. It was one of those really good performances! Sometimes when you just jump in, without a lot of planning, you have a kind-of freedom. You think, ‘OK, if I do something wrong, well, I’m sorry. I really didn’t have that much time to prepare.’ You don’t feel the same kind of pressure as when you’ve been rehearsing for a month and then go on stage and do something wrong. Then you feel really horrible! But when you jump in like this, you have to work within that limited time frame. Whatever happens, happens. Yes, it was running through my head for two days. But you go on stage with more freedom. And sometimes it turns out that it’s one of the best performances you’ve done. Actually, when I was in school, Albrecht was one of those roles I did dream about doing.”

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 4, "Swan Lake"  Photo, Erik Tomasson

GENNADI NEDVIGIN. Act 4, "Swan Lake" Photo, Erik Tomasson

I asked Gennadi how he comes down from a role such as Albrecht – one that is so physically demanding and, emotionally speaking, so high-strung. The plot and dramatic style of Giselle sits on a very high plane. After all, not every Prince gets to have one last dance with the ghost of his sweetheart. “Do you still feel the choreography running through your body? How do you end the day, go home and turn off?”

“I’m still looking for an answer,” he replied. “It’s pretty much impossible. Your mind is running, somehow your body is still running. I may not be able to fall asleep until two or three o’clock in the morning. I may wake-up at five or six and not be able to fall asleep again. It’s horrible. I can be sitting still and thinking of how I did it or will do it the next time and all of a sudden my leg gets very tight or the whole body becomes very tense because I’m going through the steps again. And then I think, “OK! Just relax, just relax.” It’s really challenging, just to be able to relax afterwards. I don’t think anyone has the answer. It just takes time.”

Casts are subject to change. Click here to purchase tickets on-line: DON QUIXOTE

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Mayor Lee Announces Major Expansion of Sharing Economy Leader Airbnb

Company Signs 169,000 Square Foot Lease in

Showplace Square with Capacity for more than 1,000 New Jobs

Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced that Airbnb has signed a 169,000 square foot lease at 888 Brannan Street in Showplace Square. Airbnb’s lease will allow their company to grow from their current 125 employees to more than 1,000 staff. The ten year lease will quadruple Airbnb’s square footage and allow for an eight fold increase in jobs as they continue to grow in San Francisco.

“San Francisco is at the forefront of the sharing economy and companies like Airbnb are creating real jobs for San Franciscans,” said Mayor Lee. “The sharing economy was born here, and I am committed to ensuring that San Francisco supports this emerging sector’s growth and success. Congratulations to Airbnb on their new Showplace Square home joining the growing innovation hub in the neighborhood.”

“The entrepreneurial spirit of San Francisco is what inspired us to create Airbnb, and the Mayor’s commitment to the sharing economy made us decide to strengthen our roots here,” said Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder Brian Chesky. “This lease not only signifies a 10-year commitment to San Francisco, but also to this neighborhood, where we want to be a great neighbor to the local community. We hope to create an inspirational space that brings people together and promotes the sharing of ideas.”

In April 2012, Mayor Lee formed the nations first Sharing Economy Working Group, bringing together City departments, neighborhood and community stake holders and sharing economy companies. The first working group discussions will focus on how to better support parking and car sharing while discussions between policy makers on the appropriate level of taxation and regulation of both short term vacation rentals and year round rentals are ongoing.

Today’s announcement solidifies Showplace Square as a hub for technology companies. Airbnb will join technology leaders including Adobe Systems, Advent Software, Dolby, Eventbrite, Flixter, Jawbone, Sega and Zynga in the neighborhood.

About Airbnb

Founded in 2008 and based in San Francisco, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 19,000 cities and 192 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.

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KILLING MY LOBSTER – A One-Night-Only Appearance at A.C.T., 5/24

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) announced two special events associated with their upcoming production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and Play, opening May 9th at the American Conservatory Theater. San Francisco’s premiere sketch comedy troupe – Killing My Lobsterwill perform Beckett-inspired sketches during a one-night-only appearance at the American Conservatory Theater on Thursday, May 24th following the 8:00 performance of Endgame and Play. A.C.T. also invites all graphic artists, illustrators, and comic enthusiasts to submit their Beckett-inspired original art to a special Beckett Design Contest. All entrants will receive discounts to the production, and selected submissions will be displayed online and as part of a special gallery in the theater during the run of Endgame and Play, where they will be eligible for audience voting and additional prizes.

Using the unique style and characters of Samuel Beckett as their inspiration for a wholly original evening of sketches, Killing My Lobster will perform in Fred’s Columbia Room, the lower-level lounge at the American Conservatory Theater. Says Killing My Lobster producer Andy Alabran: “We were thrilled to be invited by A.C.T. to perform in the American Conservatory Theater. The Killing My Lobster writers are working to create a hilarious evening of sketch comedy using Beckett’s more well-known plays such as Endgame, Happy Days, and Waiting for Godot as fodder for parody. Possible sketches include ‘Hunger End Games,’ a cooking show called ‘Cooking with Clov,’ and a speed-dating sketch featuring Beckett characters. This will be a one-night-only Killing My Lobster event not to be missed!” Admission is free, but seating is limited. Click here for ticket information: BECKETT



A.C.T. also invites all illustrators, graphic designers, and comic fans to submit a comic or drawing inspired by master playwright Samuel Beckett to a special Beckett Design Contest. Comics should illustrate one of three provided topics: 1) Single-Frame Comic: a one-panel comic inspired by Samuel Beckett (e.g., Beckett history, the themes of his plays/prose, etc); 2) Multi-Frame Comic: a depiction of one of two Beckett scenes from Endgame or Play as a page from a graphic novel; or 3) A Portrait of Samuel Beckett. Widely regarded as one of the great writers of the 20th century, and a master of absurdist fiction, Samuel Beckett has had an influence on many visual artists through the years, inspiring illustrations of his plays and portraits (or caricatures) of his distinctive visage. His plays are full of comic routines (slapstick behavior, clown-like characters, and ridiculous conversations), even as they employ dark humor, post-apocalyptic settings, and vivid imagery to explore heavy themes of despair and existential uncertainty.

Comics will be viewed and judged by members of A.C.T.’s artistic and graphic design staff. All appropriate pieces will be featured in a gallery at the American Conservatory Theater during the run of Endgame and Play, as well as on a special page of A.C.T.’s website. Audience members will be given the chance to vote for their favorite. A grand prize will be awarded and will include four VIP tickets to an upcoming A.C.T. production, a private backstage tour of the historic American Conservatory Theater, and a signed cast poster from Endgame and Play. Other winners, including an audience favorite, will win a pair of tickets to an A.C.T. production of their choice. Winners will be notified by Friday, May 25. All entrants will receive discounted tickets to Beckett’s Endgame and Play. Deadline for entry is May 18, 2012. Submissions can be sent via email or post. All submissions must include a completed copy of the submission form. Print copies must be postmarked by May 14, 2012. Click here for full details: DESIGN CONTEST

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Mayor Lee presents proposed May 1st balanced budget

Two-Year Budget Proposal for Seven Enterprise Departments Creates

More Than 8,700 Jobs & Infuses $1.3 Billion into Local Economy Through Capital Projects

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today presented his proposed two-year balanced budget for seven City departments totaling $5.2 billion. The May 1st budget focuses on enterprise departments or agencies within City government that generate revenue.

“This May 1st budget focuses on putting San Franciscans back to work, investing in our City’s infrastructure and keeping San Francisco safe, solvent and successful,” said Mayor Lee. “By creating thousands of jobs, seismically strengthening our water system, improving our Airport terminals and runways, investing in Muni maintenance and upgrading our piers, we are ensuring that San Francisco will have a secure economic future. This budget proposal, and this year’s budget process, reflects my commitment to innovate to solve our City’s challenges, involve the public, and invest in our capital assets and workforce.”

The City departments included in this May 1st proposed budget are critical to the short-term and long-term economic health of the City. These enterprise departments include:

• Airport

• Board of Appeals

• Environment

• Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA)

• Port

• Public Utilities Commission (PUC)

• Rent Arbitration Board

This May 1st proposal is an important step toward crafting a balanced citywide budget for the upcoming years. By June 1st, the Mayor must propose a citywide budget that closes the $170 million General Fund budget shortfall in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012-13, and a $312 million General Fund shortfall in FY 2013-14. This budget reflects the City’s third year of two-year budgeting for our largest enterprise departments, and the first year that Airport, PUC, Port and MTA will all move forward with a fixed two-year budget.

Innovation. Cities like San Francisco thrive because of their ability to cultivate innovative ideas. This is why Mayor Lee has reached out across the City’s departments and communities to find innovative ways to bring costs down while allowing the City to continue providing the essential services that keep neighborhoods and diverse communities moving in the right direction.

Involvement. Mayor Lee recognizes that achievements as a City are founded in commitment to hear directly from residents, communities and neighborhood organizations about what matters most to them. This is why Mayor Lee co-hosted six district-based budget town halls with all of the members of the Board of Supervisors, met with numerous stakeholders and will continue to work for greater transparency around the budget process.

Investment. By choosing to live, work, and play in San Francisco, we are all investing in the City. The May 1st proposed budget reflects our City’s significant capital investments over the coming years. Over the next two years, for example, the PUC proposes spending $71.5 million to maintain and improve the water, wastewater and power resources for the City. In addition, the budget includes implementation of the San Francisco International Airport’s 10-year $206 million investment in the development of the Runway Safety Area Plan. The Port of San Francisco will continue to invest in our waterfront piers and facilities, including the Cruise Terminal project at Pier 27. These investments will provide much-needed jobs for San Francisco residents as the City works to emerge from the economic downturn. Over the next two years, these departments will support more than 8,700 jobs in San Francisco by infusing $1.3 billion into the local economy through capital projects.

Click here to view: Mayor’s proposed May 1st Balanced Budget

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The “second helping” of Dine About Town San Francisco returns on June 1-15, 2012. The program, now in its eleventh year, is a hit with both visitors and locals as it provides an opportunity to experience San Francisco’s finest restaurants at a fraction of the regular prices. Diners may select from more than 100 participating restaurants offering a two-course lunch menu for $17.95 and/or a three-course dinner menu for $34.95. This pricing can represent up to a 25 percent savings off regularly priced a la carte items.

American Express® is the preferred method of payment for Dine About Town, and Cardmembers will earn $15 back when they dine three or more times during Dine About Town at any participating restaurants and pay with their American Express® Card. Cardmembers must register their cards to participate. More information can be found on the SF Travel website

The complete restaurant list of restaurants participating in Dine About Town San Francisco will be available after May 15 on San Francisco’s official visitor website,

Dates and times of participation vary by restaurant. A la carte menus will also be available. Reservations are encouraged and may be made online through a partnership with Information is also available by calling 415-391-2000.

Dine About Town San Francisco sponsors include American Express, BART, the San Francisco Chronicle, SF Weekly, 7 x7 and Westfield San Francisco Centre.

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, packages, activities and more, visit or call 415-391-2000. The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.

Join more than 400,000 people who follow SF Travel on Facebook at Follow “OnlyinSF” on Twitter at

American Express® is the official credit card partner for the San Francisco Travel Association.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international points and over 69 non-stop cities in the U.S. For up-to-the-minute information on the Bay Area’s largest airport, visit

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“PEOPLE LIKE US” – DreamWorks Pictures and Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

DreamWorks Pictures has announced they are teaming up with Sprinkles Cupcakes to promote their film “People Like Us” with events at the ten Sprinkles Cupcakes stores around the country. The promotion will run from May 2-June 29, 2012, and is centered around five family-themed holidays: Brothers and Sisters Day (May 2), Mother’s Day (May13), Visit Your Relatives Day (May 18), Father’s day (June 17) and National Forgiveness Day (June 26).

“People Like Us” is a drama/comedy about family, inspired by true events, starring Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) as Sam, a twenty-something, fast-talking salesman, whose latest deal collapses on the day he learns that his father has suddenly died. Against his wishes, Sam is called home, where he must put his father’s estate in order and reconnect with his estranged family. In the course of fulfilling his father’s last wishes, Sam uncovers a startling secret that turns his entire world upside down: He has a 30-year-old sister Frankie whom he never knew about (Elizabeth Banks). As their relationship develops, Sam is forced to rethink everything he thought he knew about this family—and re-examine his own life choices in the process. The film also stars Olivia Wilde, Michael Hall D’Addario, Philip Baker Hall, Mark Duplass and Michelle Pfeiffer.



On the designated “People Like Us” holidays, Sprinkles Cupcakes in all ten locations will give out a free cupcake to each customer who comes in between the hours of 12 noon and 2 p.m. and says, “People Like Us.” Any customer can vote online for the official “People Like Us” flavor and the winning cupcake will be announced the week of the film’s opening. Customers can also pick up punch cards in Sprinkles Cupcakes stores, redeemable on the selected ‘People Like Us” holidays for a free cupcake. Follow the movie on: Facebook.PeopleLikeUs. Visitors can take the Brothers and Sisters quiz and enter the “Celebrate Family” sweeps to win a trip to visit their family.


The film is directed by Alex Kurtzman, produced by Roberto Orci, Bobby Cohen and Clayton Townsend, and written by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jody Lambert. The film releases in U.S. theaters on June 29, 2012, and is rated PG-13.

A Choco Loco and Grad Box  Photo, Andrea Lenardin

A Choco Loco and Grad Box Photo, Andrea Lenardin


Sprinkles Cupcakes opened “the world’s first cupcake bakery” in Beverly Hills, as reported by the Food Network, and is credited by the Los Angeles Times as “the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze.” Founded by Candace Nelson, judge on Food Network’s hit show “Cupcake Wars,” and husband Charles, Sprinkles has inspired long lines of devoted Hollywood stars and serious epicureans alike. Baked fresh in small batches throughout the day, Sprinkles Cupcakes are handcrafted from the finest ingredients and contain no preservatives, trans fats or artificial flavors. Sprinkles has 10 locations nationwide, a traveling Sprinklesmobile – the world’s first cupcake truck, and sells its cupcake mixes at over 250 Williams-Sonoma stores throughout the US and Canada. In 2012, Sprinkles debuted the world’s first Cupcake ATM and continued its foray into classic American desserts with the launch of Sprinkles Ice Cream. Click here for more information: Sprinkles

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San Francisco Welcomes America’s Cup Fever Construction at Pier 27 for Spectator Village Begins with Mayoral Welcome, Crowds, Digital Sailing Competition

The first blush of San Francisco’s excitement for the 2013 America’s Cup was made evident today as hundreds of fans and dignitaries joined in celebrating the ceremonial signing of the agreement for the City to host the America’s Cup in 2013, complete with popping champagne corks, the America’s Cup itself and a digital competition between Mayor Ed Lee and four time America’s Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts.


The event celebrated the start of construction on Pier 27, which will serve as the heart of the spectator village for the America’s Cup as well as the start and finish line for the Louis Vuitton Cup race from July 4 to Sept. 1, 2013, and the America’s Cup Match Finals from Sept. 7 to 22, 2013.

“The America’s Cup will bring new life, new amenities and new excitement to San Francisco’s waterfront,” said Mayor Lee. “This great race, this grand tradition, this remarkable 161-year-old competition is part of the revitalization and refurbishment of this pier and our City’s waterfront.”

Mayor Lee signed the agreement for San Francisco to host the America’s Cup in front of hundreds of people gathered together to celebrate the momentous occasion that makes way for this world-renowned competitive sailing event to be held in the natural sailing amphitheater of the San Francisco Bay and be broadcast worldwide by NBC Sports and a host of international television networks.

“Never in the history of the sport has there been such an extraordinary opportunity to bring competitive sailing to the people,” said Sir Russell, head of ORACLE TEAM USA. “This venue will be transformed into the starting and finish line, an amphitheater and a racing village highlighting the excitement of the America’s Cup. This is where the action and magic of the America’s Cup will come alive.”

Construction at Pier 27 is now under way and will be completed in February 2013. The Racing Village will feature an amphitheater for 10,000 fans, entertainment including live music and dance, exhibitions of past America’s Cup winners, and other exciting celebrations of the America’s Cup festival.

In addition, Pier 30/32 will provide a real “pit row” experience for fans to see the sailors, boats and international teams up close and personal.

After signing the agreement, Mayor Lee and Sir Russell competed in a friendly ‘digital sail-off’ on “The America’s Cup: Speed Trials” app available free on iPhones and iPads via the Apple App Store.

“I might have a hard time keeping up with Russell in a real race, but with this game I feel like I have a chance,” joked Mayor Lee. “But he’s still pretty good and I think I need some more practice.”

Also featured at the celebration was the America’s Cup itself, which is the oldest trophy in international sport, and is affectionately known as the “Auld Mug.” It was on display for public viewing after the event, one of a number of stops throughout the world leading up to the America’s Cup in 2013.

San Francisco will begin to experience America’s Cup racing later this year as part of the 2012-2013 America’s Cup World Series. The World Series brings the best sailors in the fastest boats to cities around the world. The next event will take place next month in Venice, Italy, May 15 to 20 before moving to Newport, R.I. in June and then coming to San Francisco in the Fall.

About the America’s Cup

One of the most fiercely competitive and sought after trophies in all of sport, the America’s Cup was first raced in 1851, 45 years before the modern Olympics. The U.S. yacht America won, giving the international sailing competition its name.

The next Louis Vuitton Cup (July-August 2013) and America’s Cup Match (September 2013) will be held for the first time in San Francisco Bay, a natural sailing arena where more than one million spectators are expected. The entry deadline is June 1, 2012.

Sponsors and partners of the America’s Cup include Louis Vuitton, Puma, YouTube, Hanson Bridgett Law Firm, Garmin, Moet, Althelia, PWC, Napa Valley visitors authority, SPG.

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Company C Contemporary Ballet – Spring program opens tonight at the Cowell Theater

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

Continuing its exciting 10th Anniversary season, Company C Contemporary Ballet presents a Spring Program full of fun, energy and romance. Performances run from April 27—May 27 in San Francisco and Walnut Creek. The Company will also return to New York to share its exciting choreography. Works by Gregory Dawson, Peter Anastos – founder of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and frequent collaborator with Mikhail Baryshnikov—and Company C’s own Artistic Director Charles Anderson, take center stage in nine performances: Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. at the Fort Mason Center’s Cowell Theater in San Francisco; Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 20, at 2 p.m. at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University in New York; and Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 27, at 3 p.m. at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

Gregory Dawson’s Which Light in the Sky Is Us? Photo, Rosalie O’Connor

Gregory Dawson’s Which Light in the Sky Is Us? Photo, Rosalie O’Connor

Founder and Artistic Director Charles Anderson says: “I am so proud to present the Company C Contemporary Ballet’s 2012 Season – a synthesis of all that the Company has accomplished over the past ten years and a window onto the future yet to come. It is a season, ten years in the making, full of extraordinary choreography and joyous, uninhibited dancing.”


IN THE MOMENT – Documentary film excerpt
THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (suite) – Choreography by Charles Anderson; Bluegrass arrangements of music from Led Zeppelin
KEY TO SONGS – Choreography by Charles Anderson; music by Morton Subotnik.
LATE – Choreography by James Sewel; music by Paul Schoenfield,
FOOTAGE – Choreography by Peter Anastos; music by Jack Hylton and His Orchestra
WHICH LIGHT IN THE SKY IS US? – Choreography by Gregory Dawson; music by Ben Juodvalkis and Moses Sedler

Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Company C

About Company C Contemporary Ballet

Beauty, passion, wit, and drama converge in the stunning performances of California’s Company C Contemporary Ballet. Dynamic, adventurous, contemporary choreography is the hallmark of the Company led by founder and Artistic Director Charles Anderson, a former member of the New York City Ballet. The twelve-member ensemble of classically trained dancers from across the country performs a diverse repertoire of moving, provocative, sensual, and entertaining contemporary choreography. This repertoire includes master works by some of the most accomplished contemporary choreographers of today, including Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, David Parsons, Michael Smuin, and Val Caniparoli. The Company commissions original works each year from talented choreographers such as former New York City Ballet Soloist Alexandre Proia, former Paul Taylor Dancer Patrick Corbin, and Gregory Dawson, formerly of Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

In 2008, the Company premiered Twyla Tharp’s Armenia at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and in 2010 was the first company given the honor of performing Ms. Tharp’s Surfer at the River Styx. In the fall of 2009, the Company collaborated with the Diablo Theater Company and appeared in their production of On the Town. For the 2010 season, the Company commissioned a new ballet from emerging Bay Area choreographer Amy Seiwert and performed Lar Lubovitch’s seminal work, Cavalcade and Charles Moulton’s engaging Nine Person Precision Ball Passing.

Since its inception in late 2002, the Company has performed regularly throughout Northern California and made its New York City debut in 2006. In addition to its regular season throughout the Bay Area, the Company has toured to Temecula, California, Mendocino, California and Akron, Ohio, where they were the featured performers in the multi-week Heinz Poll Dance Festival.

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DROPBOX – Opens new headquarters in SOMA, estimated space for more than 500 new jobs

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston have officially opened the new office of Dropbox, a tech company that provides a sharing service for users to store photos, documents, and videos. The company’s new headquarters is located at 185 Berry Street, occupies 87,000 square feet and provides space for future growth. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) estimates this new office can accommodate approximately 550 employees, a five-fold increase over current employment.

“From cloud to mobile to social to gaming, San Francisco is ground zero for innovative companies like Dropbox,” said Mayor Lee. “Dropbox’s decision to locate their headquarters in San Francisco demonstrates what we already know – that San Francisco is the ‘Innovation Capital of the World.’ The tech ecosystem we are nurturing now has the best local talent, is helping us create jobs and reinvigorate our local economy. I am thrilled to officially welcome them to their new home in SoMa.”

“We’re proud to call San Francisco our home; there’s no better place in the world for creative thinkers and builders,” said Dropbox CEO and Co-Founder Drew Houston. “We’d like to thank the Mayor for joining us today and for the City’s support.”

The new Dropbox location in the China Basin Landing Building provides the company with an opportunity to create their own office space, is located next to convenient transit, is adjacent to AT&T Park, and enjoys access to the best talent and creativity of the San Francisco workforce.\

About Dropbox

Dropbox simplifies millions of people’s lives by letting them bring their docs, photos, and videos anywhere and share them easily. The service has more than 50 million users in over 175 countries. Dropbox was founded in San Francisco in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi.

Click here for more information:

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KEITH HARING – “Three Dancing Figures”, sculpture removed from Moscone Center for restoration

San Francisco Arts Commission has temporarily removed the colorful, three-figure sculpture by famed pop artist Keith Haring located on the corner of 3rd and Howard streets at Moscone Center. The sculpture was removed for a comprehensive restoration that will include: cleaning, removing vandalism such as tagging, addressing any corrosion issues, and a complete repainting. In addition to the conservation work, the sculpture’s pedestal will be updated with new light fixtures to illuminate the artwork at night. The restoration project is being generously funded with a $65,000 grant from the Keith Haring Foundation along with approximately $10,000 in private donations to ArtCare, the city’s fund dedicated to the care and maintenance of the Civic Art Collection. The sculpture will be re-installed in the summer of 2012.

KEITH HARING. Three Dancing Figures. 1989

KEITH HARING. Three Dancing Figures. 1989

“We are so grateful to the Keith Haring Foundation and to our ArtCare donors for making this restoration possible,” said Director of Cultural Affairs Ton DeCaigny. “San Francisco is home to one of the most prestigious public art collections in the country. However, in recent years, we’ve had to find creative ways to raise the funds we need to provide a high level of care to a collection that is aging and vulnerable to the elements. I hope this recent success inspires people to share the responsibility of caring for this collection so that it can be enjoyed for years to come.”

Keith Haring’s “Three Dancing Figures”, 1989 was purchased and installed by the city in 2001 with art enrichment funds generated by the expansion of the Moscone Convention Center. The purchase came on the heels of a wildly successful temporary exhibition of the artist’s sculptural works throughout the city.

Click here to learn more about this amazing artist: Keith Haring

About ArtCare

San Francisco is home to a world-renowned Civic Art Collection consisting of some 4,000 artworks valued in excess of $90 million. This collection helps distinguish San Francisco as an important cultural destination. Unfortunately, due to limitations set upon the funding sources used to commission new artwork and the city’s budget crises, the Arts Commission has received inadequate funding to restore many of the works in the collection. Established in 2010 in partnership with the San Francisco Art Dealers Association, ArtCare is a fund dedicated to the conservation and maintenance of the Civic Art Collection. ArtCare provides a vehicle for the private sector to become involved with preserving the city’s public monuments and artworks so that future generations can enjoy these works for many years to come.

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Saturday Beer Fest in SF Raises Suds and Money for Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School

It started out in 1984 with about five beers. Pabst, Molson and Labatt’s Blue ranked among the highlights. Let’s just say there wasn’t much competition. The food was chips and hot dogs. When those ran out, someone ran to Safeway.

But the whole thing was just crazy enough to work.

Almost 30 years later, more than 100 international and local craft brewers will showcase their handiwork alongside some of San Francisco’s most intriguing eats at the 29th Annual San Francisco International Beer Festival – a homegrown celebration of beer–and the food that tastes good with it.

All proceeds from the event at Fort Mason Center benefit the nonprofit Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School, the oldest co-op preschool in San Francisco.

Let’s face it, it can be tough raising kids in the city, and the festival keeps preschool affordable for families from across San Francisco who attend the school in North Beach. Beer Fest is the single biggest revenue source for the preschool education of about 24 kids, ages 2 to 5 years old, covering 80 percent of the school’s operating expenses.

The festival has grown from an event that drew 150 people the first year to become a staple on the regional beer festival scene. It attracts a diverse crowd reflective of the Bay Area – from dreadlocked revelers to silver-haired sophisticates – all with a common bond: a love of sharing a fine brew for a good cause. The 3,500 tickets bought last year sold out in 45 minutes, with revelers lining up as early as 8 a.m. for a 7 p.m. start time. All told, about 4,000 people are expected to attend this year’s festival when factoring in volunteers, restaurant and brewery representatives.

The beers now range from Bay Area standards like Anchor and Lagunitas to international gems like the Czech Republic’s Krusovice. There’s everything from small-batch wonders to crisp ciders. The festival often features new, reserve or adventurous releases, like black IPAs or MateVeza’s organic, naturally caffeinated beer brewed with yerba mate.

“Beer heaven doesn’t describe the selection, nor do it justice,” wrote Sara J. of Danville on Yelp, “the amount of vendors here was AWESOME. so many beers I’d never heard of before, and found so many new fav’s at this event.”

And don’t forget the food. This is artisan fare that runs the gamut from natural to imaginative pairings. Among them: Pizza Orgasmica (the big-hearted masterminds behind the “Girl From Ipanema” pie), Jasper’s Corner Tap (home of the J Burger), Chubby Noodle (yeah, their fried chicken is that good), Rosamunde Sausage Grill (props for chicken cherry sausage), The Pub at Ghirardelli Square (sages of buffalo blue mac & cheese), and El Porteno (hands-down the best empanadas in the city). Scream Sorbet is there to sooth the tongue.

This is also about responsible fun across the board. Last year, the event’s resource recovery/landfill diversion rate was 92.6%. That’s right, out of 9,127 pounds of waste generated from the event, 8,452 pounds were recycled or composted. We think it’s pretty clear: the San Francisco International Beer Festival is one of those feel-good stories with a kick.

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Mayor Lee and Supervisor Olague announce seven new businesses and increased investment in Fillmore

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague today celebrated the arrival of seven new businesses in the Fillmore, announced a dramatic 21 percent decrease in the vacancy rate from 35 percent to 14 percent in the Fillmore and highlighted several City programs aimed at continuing the momentum in the Fillmore.

Standing at the historic African-American bookstore Marcus Books, Mayor Lee and Supervisor Olague announced that the City is also partnering with merchants and property owners to improve the storefronts of 23 businesses from McAllister to Post Streets and is initiating a neighborhood marketing and events program aimed at celebrating the Fillmore’s culture and history and driving additional foot traffic to the area.

“With new businesses, storefront improvements, events programming and the leadership of business owners and the community, today there is renewed energy and optimism in the Fillmore, one of our City’s great historic neighborhoods,” said Mayor Lee. “We still have much work to do, but the dramatic drop in commercial vacancies and the progress we are seeing in the Fillmore demonstrates the promise of our Invest in Neighborhoods strategy to transform our neighborhood commercial corridors through targeted City and community resources, assistance and leadership. I want to thank Supervisor Olague for her tireless efforts since taking office to champion the needs of the Fillmore and bring new resources and focused attention to the neighborhood.”

“As we gear up for Small Business Month in May, we have a great opportunity to highlight The Fillmore’s thriving business community,” said Supervisor Olague. “I am thrilled to support the diverse merchants in the Jazz District, many of whom have been here for decades, as well as newcomers who see the limitless potential in this growing corridor.”

Three new businesses – State Bird Provisions, The Social Study café and wine bar, and 1307 Gallery, a multi-media space in the Fillmore Center owned by two local Fillmore residents – opened in late 2011 and early 2012.  State Bird Provisions has already made the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurants. Hapa Ramen and Prime Dip will open in the end of May, and Progress and City Grange restaurants, will open in Fall 2012.

Progress will be the second project of the owners of State Bird and will be located two doors down. City Grange will be a second project of the owners of Phat Angel, also in the Fillmore. Hapa Ramen is a food truck that will make its first permanent home on Fillmore. Prime Dip is expanding from its first location on Larkin Street to the Fillmore. The City has been working with property owners since 2010 to diversity the business mix in the area and fill vacancies, and has provided financial and technical assistance to many of the new entrepreneurs.

The City’s investment in the Fillmore builds on efforts by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency to restore the area as a cultural center for African Americans and for music and entertainment in the aftermath of Urban Renewal. The Redevelopment Agency’s investments led to new development and anchor businesses such as Yoshi’s, 1300 on Fillmore, Sheba Lounge and Rassela’s. The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) has continued to build on these investments by implementing initiatives aimed at supporting long-time Fillmore businesses; providing resources for area residents who wish to start their own businesses; bringing in new neighborhood-serving businesses; and activating the street with festivals and other events that showcase the culture of the district. OEWD’s Fillmore work started in early 2010 and has shown a decrease from 35 percent vacancy rate to 14 percent, showing a declining change of 21 percent.

Monday’s Fillmore merchant walk coincides with the recent kick-off of the Mayor Lee’s new Invest in Neighborhoods initiative, which will coordinate the City’s many programs and neighborhood resources to make targeted improvements in key neighborhood commercial districts.

In each participating commercial district, City services—including business retention and attraction programs, community planning activities, cleaning, greening and beautification services, public safety programs, and neighborhood art projects—will be deployed in a focused, customized manner that responds to the corridor’s unique challenges and opportunities. Invest in Neighborhoods will create infrastructure to leverage programs like the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, which Mayor Lee recently recapitalized with $1 million with unanimous support from the Board of Supervisors.

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LAURA BENANTI – At the Venetian Room, One Night Only, 5/12

Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor

Bay Area Cabaret closes its 2011-2012 season with Tony Award winning actress/singer Laura Benanti at the Venetian Room, Saturday, May 12th at 8:00 pm. Also her San Francisco cabaret debut, Benanti’s show showcases her wide musical and comedic repertoire. Opening the evening and making his Bay Area Cabaret debut is the 2011 Bay Area Teen Idol winner Robert Conte Thornton. Click here to order tickets on-line:Bay Area Cabaret

Laura Benanti

Laura Benanti

Called “glorious” by the New York Times and “exquisite” by the New York Daily News, Benanti’s performance showcases her extensive repertoire, swinging from Sondheim and other Broadway standards to Bob Dylan and Vanilla Ice (among others).  In 2008, Benanti took the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her role as “Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee” in the Broadway revival of Gypsy starring Patti LuPone as “Mama Rose.” Other Broadway credits include Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Tony and Drama League nominations), Into The Woods (Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and LA Ovation nominations), Nine (opposite Antonio Banderas, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League nominations) and Swing! (Tony nomination). Ms. Benanti has appeared in film, TV, and numerous concerts around the country. Bay Area fans saw her last summer in an all-Gershwin concert with the San Francisco Symphony. She recently appeared and received rave reviews for her recent performances at Feinstein’s and Lincoln Center in New York.  She is next set to star in the NBC TV pilot Go On, opposite Matthew Perry.

Laura Benanti sings “I Know Things Now” from INTO THE WOODS

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City celebrates U.S.–Japan Cherry Blossom Centennial

Mayor Edwin M. Lee joined Consul General of Japan Hiroshi Inomata and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department on Monday to celebrate the United States-Japan Cherry Blossom Centennial by planting a ceremonial cherry blossom tree in Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden. The event celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first cherry blossom tree presented to the U.S. and the San Francisco Consulate General of Japan is commemorating the event by donating young cherry blossom trees to be planted throughout San Francisco, including in Union Square, the Japanese Tea Garden and in Golden Gate Park.

“The cherry blossom tree is a symbol of friendship and exchange between the United States and Japan,” said Mayor Lee. “We are honored to plant cherry blossom trees, a gift of friendship from the Consul General of Japan, throughout San Francisco to recognize the strong relationship our City shares with Japan and the Japanese community.”

“I can’t think of a more fitting location, given the more than 150 years of history and exchange that San Francisco and Japan share,” said Consul General of Japan Hiroshi Inomata. “We look forward to sharing this sight with all of you, and know that the cherry trees, as well as the friendship between our peoples, will be still be blooming well into the next centennial.”

“San Francisco Recreation and Park Department looks forward to continuing our partnership with the Japanese communities oversea and in San Francisco,” said General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “With the generous gift of Cherry Blossom Trees from Consul General of Japan, now many are able to reflect and gain a deeper understanding of Japan in our park system.”

Cherry blossom trees, including some of the original from 1912, bloom beautifully every spring at the Tidal Basin along the Potomac River in Washington D.C. Various events are held during the season with the cooperation of individuals and organizations from both countries. More than a million people visit Washington D.C. every year from around the U.S. and around the world to see and cherish the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Over the years, the cherry blossom trees have encouraged exchanges between the two nations as well as contributing to a deeper understanding of Japan.

2012 also marks the 55th anniversary of the founding of the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City relationship and the 45th anniversary of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, which is the second largest festival outside of Washington, D.C. to celebrate the blooming of cherry blossoms and held at one of three remaining Japantowns in the U.S.

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