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THE LISTENER Short Stories on Stage A Cycle Of 5 Original Comic Stories presented in 2 parts

“Three-dimensional characters… urgent human situations… complex ideas… a writer of real substance.”
—Tamim Ansary, author of ‘West of Kabul, East of New York’

Award-winning playwright and performer Charlie Varon returns to The Marsh this January to read a cycle of five comic short stories called The Listener. Developed with and directed by David Ford, the stories will be read in two parts during the month of January on The Marsh MainStage at 1062 Valencia Street. Performances are Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 5:00 pm, except for Sunday January 27, when there will be shows at 3pm and 7pm. The full schedule of Parts 1 and 2 of the cycle can be found below. The two parts can be enjoyed independently from one another and in any order.

Varon is best known for his hit solo shows, including Rush Limbaugh in Night School and Rabbi Sam, but he has also had work published over the years in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Salon. The Listener brings together the dramatic and literary strands of Varon’s work, as he delivers these five original short stories with a solo performer’s craft and gusto.

The stories in The Listener are comic, poignant, and – as Varon’s fans have come to expect – brimming with ideas. The cycle follows half a dozen residents of a retirement home in San Francisco. Selma Cohen wonders whether there is a next life and, if so, what should she pack for it? Bernie Schein asks himself why, after all the Nazis did, he still wants to seduce that German teenager. And Ben Rosenau, who’s 91, regularly upsets his daughter by telling her, “No one should live past eighty.”

These short stories are my love letter to my parents’ generation,” Varon says, “and an exploration of all they’ve lived through. They came of age when radio was the hot new technology and now they have to figure out how to use cellphones.

The SF Chronicle has credited Charlie Varon with “redefining the art form” of solo performance. His hit shows – all created in collaboration with David Ford – include Rush Limbaugh in Night School (1994; revived 2004), The People’s Violin (2000), and Rabbi Sam (2009), which the Chronicle named one of the year’s 10 best plays and which Rabbi Dan Goldblatt calls “the most important Jewish play of our time.” In 2012, Charlie collaborated with David Ford and Jeri Lynn Cohen on the 2-actor comedy Fwd: Life Gone Viral, which enjoyed critical acclaim and an extended run at The Marsh. As collaborator/director, Charlie has worked with Dan Hoyle since 2004, on his award-winning solo shows Circumnavigator, Tings Dey Happen and The Real Americans.

Along with his work with Varon, David Ford has collaborated on much new and unusual theater, including Brian Copeland’s new and critically acclaimed The Waiting Period as well as Copeland’s previous show, Not a Genuine Black Man, which currently holds the record for longest running solo performance in Bay Area history and has been performed more than 500 times in San Francisco, LA and NY. Other work of note includes: Geoff Hoyle’s Geezer; Marilyn Pittman’s It’s All the Rage; and Say Ray, with storyteller-holy-man Ron Jones and Michael Rice, a mentally disabled performer. He also worked with Bill Talen on the original creation of Reverend Billy, the Obie award-winning theater/political action piece. Ford’s work has been seen regionally at the Public Theatre, Second Stage, Dixon’s Place, One Dream Theatre and Theatre for the New City (NY), Highways (LA) and Woolly Mammoth (Washington DC) as well as at theaters around the Bay Area including the Magic Theatre and Marin Theatre Company. A successful writer, his play, The Interrogation of Nathan Hale, premiered at South Coast Rep.

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Vima Ballroom’s Holiday Dance Boasts A Favroite Christmas Character Costume Contest

“This is our first Christmas in our new space,” says Vima owner, Photis Pishiaras.  “Now that we have the space – over 5,000 square feet — we want this to be the center for holiday dances and activities.”  Hosts for the party are instructors Ron Jenkins and Sandra Junoz.  There will be a costume contest for people dressed like their favorite holiday character, and performances by the Vima Vice Squad and several guest dancers.

The party begins with a Festive Fox Trot lesson at 8:10 followed by the evening’s activities, which includes a social dance, performances and costume contest.

Music includes Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Salsa, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Swing, Country and more.

WHO:                Bay Area Ballroom Dancers and their fans

WHAT:              Vima Dance Holiday Party

WHERE:            Vima Dance Studio  
                         820 26th St. (At Third)

WHEN:             Thursday, December 13

                         8:10p.m – Fox Trot classes  ($15)

                         9:00p.m – dance, performance, costumes ($10)


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Stanford’s Hoover Pavilion Gets a Beautiful Rennovation and Update

After more than half a century, the rooftop of the Hoover Pavilion is once again graced with a finial, an architectural ornament akin to the cherry on a sundae. On a cold and overcast morning in late November, a crane hoisted the 500-pound aluminum sculpture more than 105 feet off the ground. It was then lowered onto a kind of pedestal — a cube-shaped concrete stack, sheathed in copper, that sits atop the Hoover Pavilion’s tower — and bolted into place by construction workers.

The undertaking capped a 14-month, $50-million renovation of the Art Deco building, which stands at the corner of Quarry and Palo roads on the Stanford campus. The Hoover Pavilion will house several community physicians, a medical pharmacy, the Stanford Neurology Clinic, Stanford Internal Medicine, Stanford Family Medicine, the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine, the Stanford Coordinated Care Clinic, the main branch of the Stanford Health Library and a café.

“This was Palo Alto’s skyscraper in 1931,” said Laura Jones, PhD, director of heritage services and university archeologist at Stanford, referring to the year the building first opened. She stood in the parking lot watching the crane, her hands stuffed into the pockets of a brown leather jacket. “It’s such a great building,” she said. “I think it’s pretty exciting that it’s been revitalized and will be reopening soon. People will have a chance to see how fabulous it is.”

The edifice, which has a 105-foot-tall tower and 50-foot-tall wings, had become dilapidated over the decades. Before renovation work began last year, the façade was faded and dirty, with air-conditioning units protruding from windows. Now the roughly 82,000-square-foot building has been restored to its former glory on the outside and refurbished to accommodate modern medicine on the inside. (Those AC units are gone, too, thanks to the installation of centralized heating and cooling.)

The building is scheduled to reopen Dec. 17. Originally constructed as the Palo Alto Hospital, the building was designed in the style of a ziggurat — a terraced pyramid built by Babylonians and other denizens of ancient Mesopotamia. Its south and east wing, which was added in 1939, are each four stories and connect to a five-story tower, atop of which sits a sixth-story penthouse. The ziggurat form can be seen in many Art Deco skyscrapers and large structures constructed in the early 20th century.

An iron finial once stood atop the tower of this old hospital: The adornment consisted of a spherical object, resembling a cross between a gyroscope and an armillary sundial, on a pole supported by a four-prong base. But then the finial was removed, possibly for use as scrap metal during World War II. Nobody knows for sure.

In any case, the new finial is an exact replica, except that it is made of aluminum. “Fortunately, on this project we had significant documentation to show what it originally looked like,” said Erin Ouborg, a designer and materials conservation specialist at Page & Turnbull, the architectural firm in charge of restoring the building’s historic façade. “We had the original construction drawings with all the details.”

“It’s an interesting building without the finial,” Jones added. “But with the finial, it’s just superb.”

The original, decorative terra-cotta paneling that covers portions of the building’s facade was in remarkably good shape, said Rachel DeGuzman, a senior project manager at Stanford Hospital & Clinics who oversaw the renovation project. The same couldn’t be said of the steel-reinforced concrete making up the building’s floors; decades of remodeling had left a motley array of boreholes in many of the slabs, and they needed extensive patching, she said.

Some repair work also was needed to decorative relief panels in the façade, and hundreds of repairs had to be made to the exterior walls, Ouborg said. In addition, the clay tiles on the sloping roof of the tower were replaced. Original Art Deco grillwork and other embellishments, such as a rectangular metal angel above the entrance to what is now the health library, remain intact.

But the interior of the building has been largely reconfigured to support the clinics that will be there. The building appears to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources, according to Architectural Resources Group Inc., a San Francisco-based firm. The Hoover Pavilion renovation is part of the Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project.


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The Supreme Court and Gay Marriage: Fearing Fear Itself

It’s an understatement to say that there’s some apprehension among many gays and lesbians about the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Prop 8 case. Forget what you’ve heard from gay leaders: They’re showing a unified front, particularly because it was Chad Griffin, now the president of the largest group, the Human Rights Campaign, who spearheaded the challenge to Prop 8 as co-founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Gay leaders aired their public disagreements about the case back in 2009, when it was first launched, sometimes bitterly. The case has gone great, and that has melted away much of the tension. Still, though on the record they’re all on the same page now, and no one wants to cross the biggest and most influential gay group, privately the fear is palpable.

Legal experts expected that the court would hear a challenge to the rulings that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, and most LGBT activists have been relatively comfortable that they’ll prevail on that case. However, few legal experts thought that the court would hear the Prop 8 case. The Ninth Circuit Court had narrowed the ruling to apply solely to California, giving the Supreme Court a perfect out to leave the issue of whether marriage is a constitutional right or not to another day, when there would be more acceptance of marriage equality and the court wouldn’t be getting too far out front. But the court defied the experts yet again.

Is the fear warranted? That’s a tricky question and depends on what it is you’re afraid of. Is it quite possible that the court will hand down a sweeping decision upholding marriage bans in over 30 other states, ruling that marriage is not a fundamental right for gays? Absolutely, and if that’s what you’re afraid of, then be very afraid. Such a ruling could have a broad and enduring impact.

From everything I’ve read, it seems more likely that the Supreme Court would hand down a sweeping decision in that direction than in the other direction: throwing out marriage bans across the country. Many experts seem to think that the court will do something more restrained: affirming the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, which would make it apply only to California, a state that had granted marriage rights to gays and lesbians and then took them away at the ballot. Alternatively, there’s the issue of standing, which the Supreme Court is taking up again. Do the Prop 8 proponents even have legal standing to challenge Judge Walker’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, given that the attorney general and the governor didn’t file a challenge? If the Supreme Court thinks not, then the case goes back to Walker’s ruling and would not apply beyond California.

But none of us has any idea why the Supreme Court took up this case. It only takes four justices to decide to take a case. Did the four most conservative justices believe they could get Justice Kennedy’s swing vote? Or did the four liberal-leaning justices decide to take it up, thinking they’d in fact get Kennedy? Or did all nine justices believe they needed to take up the case for various reasons? We don’t know, and the legal experts have been wrong on this issue and many others, so don’t put much stock in speculation.

But I’m not afraid of the Supreme Court, and I am completely prepared for the worst possible outcome while hoping for the best. The court can’t hold us back, nor can it stop a movement, even if it becomes an ugly impediment. Public opinion is shifting rapidly, and the movement for LGBT equality has come very far in such a short period of time. Few imagined it would happen so fast, and if there’s a chance it may take longer by taking some risks that could bring full equality, I’m all ready for that. The alternative is to do nothing and continue without rights, perhaps indefinitely. Our current president supports full equality, and a previous great president, FDR, once wisely told Americans that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That and the latest polling showing that Americans are with us should be enough for us to boldly move forward.

(From Michelangelo Signorili, via the Huffington Post)

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Estate of Thomas M. Dross Makes Major Long Term Gift to AIDS Emergency Fund

The estate of San Francisco resident Thomas M. Dross intends to donate $1 million to the AIDS Emergency Fund ( to be used over several years including for the solicitation of ongoing challenge grants. The gift was announced today in San Francisco as part of the 30th Anniversary gala benefiting the acclaimed nonprofit that provides ongoing support to the AIDS/HIV population.

“The AIDS pandemic has been with us for more than 30 years, and those living with the disease continue to need care, funding and support, especially as they age,” said AIDS Emergency Fund Executive Director Mike Smith. “This bequest, while the largest single donation ever made to AEF, does not eliminate the continuing and growing need for funding. In light of the continuing financial crisis and the challenge faced by the AIDS/HIV community to raise vital funds, we are especially grateful for the incredible generosity of the Dross estate, and the message it will send: AIDS is not over, and we still need your help in the ongoing fight.”

Dross, of Palm Springs and San Francisco, died following a sudden heart attack on January 7, 2012. Originally from Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, Dross moved to San Francisco in the 1970s where he became a well-known advertising and marketing professional, working for such prestigious firms as Pritikin & Associates. Later, he was the founder and owner of one of San Francisco’s most popular financial district restaurants, “Upstairs, Downstairs.” He attended Widner College in Chester Pennsylvania and received his degree from the University of Pennsylvania. As a youth, He went to St. Mary’s Parochial school, St. Matthew’s High School and was a member of St. Mary’s Church all in Conshohocken. Dross is survived by a family of friends in both Palm Springs and San Francisco and family in Pennsylvania.

“Tom was one of the kindest and most generous people we ever met,” said a joint statement from Alfredo Casuso and David Perry, co-executors of the Dross will. “His will stipulated that the main beneficiaries of his will would be AIDS charities. There is no greater example of the ‘San Francisco Model’ of AIDS care than the AIDS Emergency Fund. We look forward, over the next few years, to working with AEF to make sure these funds get put to good use.”

The AIDS Emergency Fund responds compassionately to the AIDS crisis by providing immediate, short-term financial assistance to help people disabled by HIV/AIDS to cover their basic human needs and stabilize their living situations. The AIDS Emergency Fund operates with low overhead to raise and distribute funding to those most in need who are experiencing genuine emergencies or have an opportunity to permanently stabilize their living situation. Short-term financial assistance from AEF is a key element of San Francisco’s continuum of care, and AEF collaborates with other service providers to insure that clients access all available resources and assistance.

Through compassionate intervention by AEF, people living with HIV/AIDS can maintain access to medical care and drug therapies, avoid eviction and homelessness, and live with greater stability and dignity during their illness. For more information go to

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A Christmas Carol Now starring Mark Anderson Phillips as Scrooge Back for it’s 15th smash year!

Just in time to celebrate the season, Center REPertory Company is pleased to present Charles Dickens’s holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Hailed by critics as “…THE Christmas Carol to see in the Bay Area,” this REP favorite is celebrating its fifteen year, and first with the award winning, Bay Area favorite Mark Anderson Phillips debuting in the role of the miserly, joyless Ebenezer Scrooge. With only 16 performances, tickets are expected to sell fast. The show opens Saturday, December 8th at 7:30 p.m. Center REP Managing Director Scott Denison directs the ensemble of new faces and old pros, from the tragically doomed Jacob Marley to the incurably optimistic Tiny Tim. Ticket prices starting at $41 and can be purchased by calling 925.943.SHOW.

A Christmas Carol is made possible by the generous support of Chevron, The Contra Costa Times, Diablo Regional Arts Association and Wells Fargo.A Christmas Carol is the enduring and inspiring tale of redemption that follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation after meeting a series of ghosts one evening. Theatregoers of all ages will enjoy this traditional holiday treat. Returning patrons will remember fondly the outlandish antics of Michael Ray Wisely as Christmas Present and the daunting specter of Jacob Marley, played by Jeff Draper, but more than a few changes and surprises keep the annual production fresh and exciting. Director Scott Denison says “the advantage of doing this year after year is that on opening night, I’m sitting in the back of the house and thinking “next year, I want to add this, and next year, I want to add that.”

Placed at the helm of one of the most popular and retold Christmas tales, director Scott Denison focuses on keeping his version fresh and familiar simultaneously. The freshness comes from out-of-this world special effects, and familiarity comes through the story and the recurring cast of characters that audiences from around the Bay Area have come to know and love each holiday season.

Joining the cast this year, Director Scott Denison is proud to introduce Mark Anderson Phillips in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. This will be Phillips 8th production with Center REP. “Mark will bring a new dynamic to this production,” Denison continues, “When you change a lead it affects all the other characters and will bring a fresh new outlook in telling this wonderful story.”

“It’s not the crotchety mean guy who is hard to portray,” Denison insists, “it’s the reborn man. It’s so important to the storytelling. Mark will bring honesty and sincerity.” I think he’s going to excel at it: he’s a workhorse and a brilliant actor.”

“We have all lost our way at some point, have closed down and shut ourselves off. Dickens reminds us how amazing and essential it is to open our hearts,” says Phillips, a recipient of three Bay Area Drama Critics’ Circle Awards and a favorite artist at Center REP .

“The audiences leave here ready to give each other a hug.” Denison claims, noting that special effects and other theatre magic enhance Dickens’ classic story. “It snows in the Hofmann Theater, after all!” he says, laughing.

Director Scott Denison has directed and created lighting designs for over 200 productions, including Center REP’s acclaimed The Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Carol, Shirley Valentine and Dear Liar. Denison serves as Managing Director of Center REPertory Company, is the director and co-founder of Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble, and created the Contra Costa County Shellie Awards. He has directed A Christmas Carol every year for the past eight years. “This story is a joy to return to every year for the actors, designers, and staff of Center REP. In the somber days of winter, this timeless tale of moving from darkness to light is certainly worth retelling,” remarks Denison. “The warmth and laughter are infectious.”

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California Center for Sustainable Energy Appoints Rear Adm. Len Hering as Executive Director

Brings strategic leadership, business acumen and innovation in sustainability             

The California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) announced today, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, the appointment of retired Rear Adm. Len Hering Sr., a prominent military and civilian sustainability leader, as its new executive director.

Alan Ball, an energy consultant and chair of CCSE’s board of directors, said Hering was selected after a nationwide search to succeed long-time CCSE executive director Irene M. Stillings who served as the center’s executive director from 2002 to 2012. CCSE is a San Diego-based nonprofit organization that works with stakeholders throughout the state’s energy sector to meet California’s aggressive energy goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“CCSE’s entire board of directors is very excited to have an individual with Admiral Hering’s sustainability credentials take over leadership of our organization,” Ball said. “We are confident that Hering, working with CCSE’s talented staff, can provide the knowledge, skills and direction to take the organization to higher levels, offering its energy services statewide and beyond.”

“After extensive outreach and search, Len Hering’s outstanding leadership skills and proven track record in delivering renewable energy projects rose to the top from a group of very talented applicants,” said San Diego attorney John Moot, CCSE board member and search committee chairman. “CCSE is indeed fortunate to have someone of Hering’s skills follow in the steps of Irene Stillings.”

“Len Hering is an excellent choice to lead CCSE because of his broad experience and leadership role in planning and implementing a wide range of sustainable initiatives in both the government and private sectors,” Stillings said. “His passion and focus on saving the environment, becoming oil independent and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will serve well CCSE’s goals and will no doubt influence the business community and government agencies to move forward with programs and policies leading to a more sustainable energy future.”

Hering, a resident of Chula Vista, Calif., served 32 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 2009, and was noted as one of the Navy’s top experts in base operations and facility support with an emphasis on sustainability and the environment. He received several state, local and federal awards for efforts ensuring the Navy’s environmental responsibilities with fiscally sound practices, including the creation of the Federal Sustainability Network in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California.

Hering has also been recognized with awards for instituting numerous sustainable measures, including solar energy, water conservation and waste reduction, while vice president for business services and administration at the University of San Diego during 2009-2012.

Most recently, Hering has been an advisor to a number of boards and companies on matters of sustainability, energy use and water conservation. He was selected as one of San Diego’s Top 100 Influentials in 2006-7, 2008 San Diego’s Deal Maker of the Year, 2008 winner of the Spirit of San Diego Award and 2010 American Lung Association Climate Champion Award. He founded the San Diego Regional Sustainability Partnership, a consortium of business, government, academic and community organizations promoting practices that support a sustainable future for the region.

While in the Navy, Hering was responsible for building a team recognized throughout the Department of Defense as the best in environmental protection and sustainable innovation. Within three years, the team reduced energy consumption by nearly 42%, diverted 75% of Navy waste from landfills and reduced water consumption by more than one billion gallons, saving tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. Hering instigated wind, thermal, photovoltaic and conversion technology at all levels in Navy facilities. President Bush awarded Hering a 2005 Presidential Award for Leadership in Federal Energy Management for recognition of efforts reducing oil spills and for recycling.

CCSE has almost 90 employees and closed 2011 with more than $75 million in revenue. During 2011, CCSE awarded about $62 million in direct incentive payments to Californians who made investments in sustainable energy by purchasing solar electric, solar water heating systems, fuels cells and electric vehicles. For more information, visit <> .

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The California Center for Sustainable Energy is an independent, nonprofit organization that accelerates the adoption of clean and efficient energy solutions via consumer education, market facilitation and policy innovation. For more information and workshop listings, visit <>  or call 866-733-6374.


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“NOT A GENUINE BLACK MAN” Returns To The Marsh San Francisco For Limited Engagement February 1- 23 In Celebration of Black History Month

The Marsh is delighted to welcome back Brian Copeland’s hit show, NOT A GENUINE BLACK MAN, for a limited engagement at The Marsh San Francisco in celebration of Black History Month.  The Marsh is very proud to be the theatrical producer of what became the longest running solo show in San Francisco history. Its next incarnation, currently in the planning stages, will be a performance film for DVD and cable television to be shot next fall.

Directed by David Ford, the show plays on Fridays at 8:00 pm and Saturdays at 5:00 pm (except Saturday, February 2 at 8:00 pm) from February 1 – 23, 2013 on The Marsh MainStage, 1062 Valencia Street in San Francisco. For tickets, the public may visit <> or call 415-282-3055.

In 1972, the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing Called San Leandro, California ‘a racist bastion of white supremacy’. It was named one of the most racist suburbs in America. CBS News and Newsweek covered the story. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights conducted hearings. And then, we moved to town.” So writes Brian Copeland in his first solo show, NOT A GENUINE BLACK MAN, revealing a little-known chapter of Bay Area history. In a monologue that’s both funny and poignant, Copeland explores how surroundings make us who we are.

Copeland’s memoir based on the show is now available nationwide. It received high critical acclaim from, among others, Publisher’s Weekly, People, Ebony and The Boston Globe while reader reviewers on are calling it “The best book I’ve ever read.” It was chosen as the 2009 selection for Silicon Valley Reads, a library sponsored program that encourages all Silicon Valley residents to read one book at the same time and engage in community wide discussions on its relevance. It is widely used in school and college courses. For more information on Copeland, please visit his website at <> .

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Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s recording of John Adams’ Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine nominated for 2013 Grammy Award

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s live concert recording of works by Bay Area composer and longtime collaborator John Adams was nominated for a 2013 Grammy® Award yesterday in the category of Best Orchestral Performance. The recording was released in March 2012 in conjunction with the Orchestra’s month-long American Mavericks festival and tour. The SFS commissioned, premiered, and recorded Harmonielehre in March 1985 during Adams’ tenure as SFS composer in residence. Hear Adams and MTT’s insights about the work at Michael Tilson Thomas commissioned Short Ride in a Fast Machine from John Adams in 1986. Adams and Tilson Thomas talk about the genesis of Short Ride in a Fast Machine in a short video found at The recording is available as a hybrid SACD, playable in conventional CD players as well as in SACD stereo and SACD surround formats for audiophiles who want a greater range of premiere sound options, and as a studio master quality digital download. The 55th annual Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, and broadcast on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

MTT and the SFS’ releases on SFS Media reflect the artistic identity of the orchestra’s programming, including its commitment to performing the work of American maverick composers alongside that of the core classical masterworks. All SFS Media recordings are available from the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall and online at as well as other major retailers. The recordings can also be purchased as downloads from iTunes and other digital outlets. SFS Media recordings are distributed by harmonia mundi in the U.S., SRI Canada, IODA digitally and Avie internationally.

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Celebrating Its 55th Anniversary,
Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour
Comes to Cal Performances on Jan 19 In Zellerbach Hall

An all-star band featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christian McBride and Benny Green

The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour (MJF) stops at Cal Performances for a concert featuring a roster of master musicians on Saturday, January 19, at 8:00 p.m. in Zellerbach Hall. The concert showcases the long history of artistic excellence and sophisticated informality for which the MJF has gained international fame. Chosen for their devotion to spreading jazz around the world, outstanding leadership abilities and masterful performing skills, the 55th Anniversary band celebrates the MJF’s golden moment as the world’s longest-running jazz festival. Bassist and musical director Christian McBride is joined by vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, pianist Benny Green, drummer Lewis Nash, saxophonist Chris Potter and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. Both Green and Akinmusire call the East Bay home. The program will be announced from the stage.

The Monterey Jazz Festival is internationally recognized as one of the world’s most important annual jazz events. Begun in 1957 by Jimmy Lyons, the MJF developed its stellar reputation by consistently presenting the finest artists in jazz—who perform by invitation only—in an intimate, informal setting to a devoted and knowledgeable audience. Since 1966, all-star bands have been part of the Festival. Over the years, these bands have included Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Elvin Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Ray Brown, Sonny Stitt, Max Roach, John Lewis, Shelly Manne, Bobby Hutcherson, Hank Jones and Milt Jackson among many others. Until now, however, these supergroups could be heard only by the fortunate few who had secured coveted Festival tickets. To commemorate its 50th Anniversary in 2008, MJF put together an all-star touring band featuring Terence Blanchard, James Moody and Nnenna Freelon. In 2010, a second band was organized that included Kenny Baron, Regina Carter and Kurt Elling. This year’s tour marks the festival’s third all-star band.

Another reason that the Festival enjoys such an exalted status is its empowerment and support of its artists. Jimmy Lyons appointed John Lewis, the pianist of the Modern Jazz Quartet, as Artistic Director in 1959—a position he held until the early 1980s—to commission new works by some of the jazz world’s best composers. Newly commissioned works became a defining feature of the MJF with pieces from the likes of Dave Brubeck, Jon Hendricks, Gerald Wilson and others taking center stage. When Lyons retired in 1992, his successor, Tim Jackson, created the Artist-in-Residence program in an effort to continue this legacy. Ambrose Akinmusire, who plays trumpet in the 55th Anniversary touring band, was named MJF’s 2012 Artist-in-Residence. For more information on the Monterey Jazz Festival visit

Winner of three Grammys and a Tony, nominated for a Laurence Olivier award, and recipient of the Victoire de la Musique, vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater began her New York jazz career in the 1970s playing with greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon and Max Roach. In 1974, she played Glinda in The Wiz, a performance that earned her a Tony. In the 80s, she continued singing and performing in musicals, earning a Laurence Olivier nomination for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the 1986 West End production of Lady Day. Her recent album, Eleanora Fagan (1915-1949): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater, won the 2010 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

Philadelphia-born Christian McBride began playing bass at a young age, studying both jazz and classical at Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and later attending Juilliard. He left the renowned music school after only a year and went on to perform with Roy Hargrove, Freddie Hubbard, Pat Metheny, Johsua Redman and more. In the 90s, McBride recorded nearly 150 albums with artists such as Joe Henderson, Benny Green, Diana Krall, Dave Brubeck, Jimmy Smith, Joe Lovano and McCoy Tyner. He is the frontman for three bands, Philadelphia Experiment (which also features Roots drummer and McBride’s childhood friend), the Christian McBride Band and the Christian McBride Situation. These bands produce an eclectic mix of both traditional and new noise, blending electric and acoustic sounds. McBride currently holds positions as Artistic Director at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass summer program, Co-Director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem and Creative Chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Pianist Benny Green and MJF go back to 1978, when he performed as a 15-year-old student. Green grew up in Berkeley and has played at the MJF six times in four decades. In 1987, at age 24, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, performing with the band for nearly three years. In 1993, Oscar Peterson selected Benny to be the first recipient of the City of Toronto’s Glenn Gould Protégé Prize in Music and later that year he joined Ray Brown’s trio. Since 1997, Green has led his own groups, touring extensively and releasing more than a dozen albums under his own name. The New York Times describes Green’s playing as “funky and hard,” breathing “not only be-bop but Oscar Peterson’s virtuosic effusions as well.”

Born and raised in Phoenx, Arizona, drummer Lewis Nash quickly gained recognition in the jazz world. By the age of 18, he was playing as a sideman for musicians coming through Arizona. Since then, he has played with Oscar Peterson, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Ron Carter, Milt Jackson, McCoy Tyner, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Martino, Diana Krall and many others. He is known for playing in a wide variety of styles, including bebop, post-bop, funk, free and Latin. As a bandleader, Nash has produced three recordings: Rhythm is My Business (1989), It Don’t Mean a Thing (2003) and Stompin’ at the Savoy (2005).

Hailed by DownBeat magazine as “one of the most studied (and copied) saxophonists on the planet,” Chicago-born Chris Potter was discovered by legendary jazz pianist Marian McPartland at age 15. Finishing school was a priority however, and Potter went on to study at the New School and the Manhattan School of Music. Since then, he has played alongside Paul Motian, Dave Holland and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. His most recent album, Ultrahang (2009), represents the culmination of five years of collaboration with his Underground quartet.

Oakland native and Berkeley High School alumnus Ambrose Akinmusire was listed in “Faces to Watch” by the Los Angeles Times in 2011, who described him as “less like a rising star than one that was already at great heights and just waiting to be discovered.” By the time Akinmusire graduated from high school in 2000, he had already gone an extensive tour of Europe with Steve Coleman’s Five Elements band. After graduating from Manhattan School of Music, he attended the University of Southern California and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz where he studied under Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. His recent album, When the Heart Emerges Glistening, was named the top CD of 2011 by the New York Times.

Tickets for Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour on Saturday, January 19 at 8:00 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall range from $20.00 to $56.00 and are subject to change. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at; and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. UC faculty and staff, senior citizens, other students and UC Alumni Association members receive a $5.00 discount (Special Events excluded). For select performances, Cal Performances offers UCB student, faculty and staff, senior, and community rush tickets. For more information about discounts, go to or call (510) 642-9988.

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Brian Copeland’s The Waiting Period Resumes at the March San Francisco from January 11– 26, 2013

After a holiday season hiatus, Brian Copeland’s critically acclaimed solo show, THE WAITING PERIOD, will resume at The Marsh San Francisco from January 11 – 26, 2013. The Marsh could not be more proud of this sold-out show’s continuing and significant contribution to the local discussion and understanding of this often fatal disease.

The show plays on Friday at 8:00 pm and Saturday at 5:00 pm on The Marsh MainStage, 1062 Valencia Street in San Francisco. For tickets, the public may visit or call 415-282-3055. Fridays are Educator Nights. Please note: teachers, students and those working in the mental health field get special discounts. For information call 415-282-3055.

Copeland, a multi-talented actor, playwright, author and talk show host, has basked in the glow of both public and critical acclaim for nearly a decade. And yet, along with such other well-known figures as Mike Wallace, Tipper Gore and Yves San Laurent, he suffers from debilitating bouts of depression. As William Styron, another well-known sufferer, put it: “Mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from normal experience…depression takes on the quality of physical pain…it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion.”

This show is an unrelenting look at a ten-day period in Copeland’s life—the mandatory ten-day waiting period before he could lay his hands on the newly purchased gun with which he planned to take his own life. Even in the midst of this tragedy, however, his wonderful sense of the comedy of life does not desert him (how much should he spend on the gun?), indeed serves him insidiously well as a buffer against the grim reality of his intention. Copeland hopes this very personal, and ultimately redemptive, story will reach people who struggle with depression—often called the last stigmatized disease—as well as their families and loved ones. Interspersed with interviews with other sufferers, the play, like so many Marsh stories, also offers outsiders an insider’s view, thereby expanding our understanding and, hopefully, our humanity. As critic Sam Hurwitt put it in The Idiolect: “It’s a play I’d strongly recommend to anyone who is now or has ever been depressed or who knows someone in that situation. But honestly, it’s such a strong piece that I’d recommend it just as heartily to anyone who’s ever been human.”

In 1995, San Francisco ABC radio affiliate KGO premiered The Brian Copeland Show that remains the most listened to program in its time slot. His previous hit show, Not A Genuine Black Man, ended a seven-year run at The Marsh Berkeley earlier this year.

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Curry Senior Center’s Ends Fortieth Year with Increased Caseload, Increased Volunteer Hours and Ever-increasing Need

Curry Senior Center began operations in 1972 to assist the city’s most vulnerable population with medical assistance, housing and meals.   Completing its 40th year of operations this month, Curry’s mission is as important today as it was in 1972.

“As we begin our 5th decade of service, there is a growing population of seniors who need our in the neighborhood,” according to Dave Knego, Executive Director.  “The senior population is most concentrated in the Tenderloin and these people need a place where all of their needs – medical, nutritional, social, and housing – can be met.”

Medical visits to Curry have increased over 10% over 2011, serving 1,625 clients with 10,509 visits. Of these statistics, this includes 166 in-home visits by physicians and nurse practitioners for seniors too frail to leave their homes.

Curry’s meal site served 49,320 breakfasts and 61,480 lunches.

The housing arm of the agency was working overtime this year securing housing for 42 seniors who were previously homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.  And the occupancy rate for Curry’s Senior Housing was 97.5%.

The mission of Curry is not possible without the dedication of it s volunteers who have donated over 10,000 hours of time serving the agency.  This includes over 540 hours of medical translation into languages including Cantonese, Lao, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Program highlights in the 40th year include:

  • Recruited  a new group of daily volunteers who help serve seniors and socialize with them
  • The addition of mental health services.
  • Enhanced the infrastructure with new kitchen equipment, sturdy chairs, an expanded bathroom, and a refurbished elevator
  • Preparing for electronic health records and transitioning to team-based care.
  • Health education efforts included the addition of pain management and smoking cessation classes and expansion of one-on-one and group education on diabetes.
  • Started a new after-lunch walking group and a monthly raffle in the Dining Room.



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Mayor Lee & Detroit Mayor Bing Settle Friendly 2012 World Series Mayoral Wager

Detroit Mayor Travels to Home of World Champion San Francisco Giants to Meet with Junior Giants & Tour City’s Tech & Cleantech Companies

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Detroit Mayor David Bing today settled their friendly mayoral wager on the outcome of the 2012 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers. Mayor Bing traveled to San Francisco and joined Mayor Lee and the Junior Giants to tour AT&T Park and meet with children enrolled in the program to talk about the four principles of the youth baseball program run by the Giants’ Community Fund – confidence, integrity, teamwork and leadership – and received a special visit from Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt and Giants mascot Lou Seal.

“The San Francisco Giants defied incredible odds to win the World Series, and we are still celebrating our World Champions,” said Mayor Lee. “I know Mayor Bing is a good sport who cares deeply about youth and community service because he was willing to come all the way from Michigan to settle our bet with a day of service and to tour our City. Thank you to the Junior Giants and the Giants Community Fund for participating and for their work in helping our young people build confidence and develop leadership skills.”

“Although I wish the World Series results had required Mayor Lee to visit Detroit, I do appreciate the hospitality shown to me today by the Mayor’s Office and by the people of San Francisco,” said Mayor Bing. “I believe this day of education and service will strengthen the relationship between our two cities and give encouragement to the young people in the Junior Giants program.”

Since the San Francisco Giants won, Mayor Bing had to travel to San Francisco to spend a day with young people in the Junior Giants program, and had a chance to tour the City with Mayor Lee and see why San Francisco is the Innovation Capital of the World. The two mayors also visited San Francisco-based Twitter in Central Market and Greenstart, an investor and design studio for digital cleantech startups.

Junior Giants, the flagship program of the Giants Community Fund, is a free, non-competitive and innovative baseball program for boys and girls ages 5-18 years old. In 1994, the Giants Community Fund created the Junior Giants Program to give underserved kids a meaningful partnership with community-based organizations and provide important lessons in education, violence prevention and healthy living. The program now serves 20,000 children in more than 80 leagues across California and into Nevada and Oregon, with nearly 2,500 volunteer coaches participating as well. The Giants Community Fund provides all of the uniforms, equipment, and training necessary to run a league as well as tickets to select Giants games so the youth can experience a Major League Baseball game. Because of the well-rounded approach, the Giants Community Fund won a national award for excellence from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Sports Philanthropy Project.



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AutoReturn of San Francisco Wins New Contract with Kansas City to Start Municipal Towing Program

Kansas City, MO.– After a nationwide procurement search and selection process, Kansas City selected AutoReturn, the nation’s leading municipal towing management and logistics company, to oversee the city’s towing operations and handle, track, and report on towed vehicles.  Kansas City selected AutoReturn for its unique municipal towing management and logistics program.

Kansas City’s choice of AutoReturn highlights the city’s dedication to transforming its municipal towing services and streamlining city operations. The contract represents a prime example of public and private entities coming together to share best practices to simplify government services.

“We believe our solution fundamentally transforms the way cities and residents think about municipal services,” said AutoReturn CEO John Wicker. “We have been working closely with city officials and the police department in Kansas City to provide superior service and make the sometimes unfortunate experience of towing a lot easier for everyone.”

AutoReturn’s Municipal Towing Management Addresses Safety Logistics Issues

“AutoReturn’s software, people and processes have already addressed some of Kansas City’s most difficult public issues related to towing,” said Gary Majors, manager of Kansas City’s regulated industries division.  “By shortening the time it takes for equipment to reach a tow scene, the city reduces officer wait times, decreases traffic congestion, and limits the chance of secondary accidents, saving money and increasing safety.”  The average response time from dispatch to arrival since going live in October, 2012 has been reduced measurably to approximately 11 minutes.

Additionally, said Lesly Forsberg, Manager of Kansas City’s Tow Services Division, “AutoReturn’s model has relieved Kansas City of the day-to-day management of towing operators and tow requests from the Police Department, allowing city staff and police to focus their time on different important public safety issues.”

AutoReturn Technology Benefits Small, Local, Women and Minority-owned Tow Companies

By leveraging Android applications, AutoReturn is able to electronically dispatch tow trucks closest to the call, helping reduce costs incurred by the small, local, women and minority-owned tow companies.  Timothy Marshall, owner of Recovery Tow Service, Inc., said, “AutoReturn technology runs on our existing smart phones, streamlining our business.  Their fair and transparent process provides me the tools to exceed service level expectations.”

AutoReturn currently manages municipal towing and logistics operations in Baltimore County, Maryland, San Francisco, San Diego and, now, Kansas City, Missouri.

The company was founded a decade ago in San Francisco and continues to grow its business nationally. AutoReturn has been praised by cities and municipalities for bringing transparency and efficiency to what the notoriously disorganized business of municipal towing.  AutoReturn uses a proprietary computerized system and software that allows the company to efficiently tow vehicles, reducing time and manpower of police departments and municipal staff while at the same time creating fast and efficient service in returning cars to owners. AutoReturn is expected to continue to grow as other municipalities, police departments, city and regional government review the advances that AutoReturn has made to the industry.

About AutoReturn

AutoReturn is the leader in municipal towing management and logistics solutions, partnering with municipalities and existing local tow operators to help achieve efficiency, superior service, and increased cost recovery. Founded in 2002 as a technology-enabled towing management and logistics company, AutoReturn has revolutionized municipal towing, making sizable investments in technology, repeatable processes, training programs and other infrastructure. Learn more at


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Revolutionary Island: Tales of Cuban History and Culture, The Sarah and Darius Anderson Collection January 19–March 24, 2013

“Nothing in Cuba is what it appears,” says Darius Anderson and he should know from his 25 plus years traveling to that fascinating island. From January 19-March 24, 2013,  Anderson’s passion for Cuba will be reflected in a new exhibit coming to the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art ( Revolutionary Island: Tales of Cuban History and Culture The Sarah and Darius Anderson Collection.

“A culture is expressed through its art,” said Kate Eilertsen, Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.  “The works in this exhibition provide a profound and realistic assessment of revolutionary to present-day Cuba. Some of the works are powerfully moving, like a series of near life-sized paintings of everyday Cuban people doing everyday things, but all under water. The impact comes when you find that every one of these people of all ages—men, women, even children—have died attempting to cross over by sea to Florida. This personalizes an ongoing tragedy still relevant today.”

The Sarah and Darius Anderson Collection demonstrates that passion with objects as diverse as paintings, sculpture, humidors and more. Through this dynamic and diverse collection viewers will see not only art work illustrating the desire to express non-conformity, or even a sly, knowing wink to the savvy viewer, but also the passion for baseball, love of tobacco and a collection of historic documents that will illustrate the stories that make up the culture and history of this island of revolution.

“Just the word Cuba evokes a passion within me that draws me back every time,” said Darius Anderson.  “At the young age of fourteen my family introduced me to the adventures of Sonoma’s greatest son, Jack London. His love and interest fueled my obsession in all things Cuba. At age sixteen I learned that Jack traveled to Cuba on his honeymoon — I told myself that one day, I too would visit that exotic place. This is the land Christopher first landed in the new world. It’s history includes stories of great riches, heartbreakingpoverty, battling ideologies, respect and love of the arts. Most importantly it is a history that is steeped in sugar, rum, tobacco and baseball — all my favorite vices.”

According to famous Cuban artist Ibrahim Miranda, “Our insular condition has been a decisive factor in our culture, influencing our myths, fantasies and our national psyche. The sensation of being isolated, separated from everyone, floating in the middle of the sea, has been a strong stimulus to the imagination of Cuban artists.”

This exhibition will feature Cuban artists: Rene Francisco, Esterio Segura, Ruben Alpizar, Carlos Valera (musician) and many more.

With more than 1,000 members, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (SVMA) is the largest visual arts organization in the San Francisco North Bay region. It was incorporated in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to promote the creation, exhibition, and collection of fine arts, to provide a venue for art exhibition in Sonoma, and to offer educational opportunities for people of all ages. It occupies an 8,000-square-foot space at 551 Broadway, just one-half block south of the historic Sonoma Plaza.  The Museum purchased the building in early 2001, and completed extensive renovations in March 2004.

A special members’ preview will be held Friday, January 18 at 5pm. Special programs and events will be held throughout the exhibition. The exhibition will open to the public Saturday, January 19, 2013. Museum hours are Wednesday–Sunday from 11am to 5pm. More information about the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is available at  or by calling (707) 939-7862.

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Mayor Lee Announces First Investment In Affordable Housing & Down Payment Assistance Funding From Housing Trust Fund

Investment Result of Voter-Approved Housing Trust Fund, Proposition C

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the first funding commitments for affordable housing and down payment assistance funded through the Housing Trust Fund, passed by San Francisco voters in November. The Housing Trust Fund provides a permanent source of revenue to fund the creation of affordable housing for low and middle income households for the next 30 years.

“A growing and vibrant economy requires a diverse supply of new housing,” said Mayor Lee. “San Francisco voters know that creating a permanent source of revenue to fund housing production will allow San Francisco to remain a viable place to live and work for people at all levels of the economic spectrum. And, a down payment assistance program will help keep families in our City and support a diverse workforce.”

The first affordable housing project funded from the Housing Trust Fund is the long-stalled 55 Laguna Senior Housing project located on the former University of California Berkeley Extension campus in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. The project is funded by the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) at $6.1 million and is a joint-venture of Mercy Housing California and Openhouse. It will create 110 units of affordable housing for low income seniors. The project has been on hold for eight years due to the downturn in the economy and a lack of local resources.

“We are very excited that the City has been able to commit the funding to this important project to allow us to move toward start of construction in the summer,” said Mercy Housing California President Douglas Shoemaker. “It’s an honor to be the first affordable housing project funded with revenue from the Housing Trust Fund.”

This announcement comes on the heels of a number of important affordable housing milestones, including:

  • Soon to be completed Kelly Cullen Community – 172 new SRO units of housing for the formerly homeless in the historic Central YMCA building at 220 Golden Gate Avenue, that will also house a new Integrated Health and Homeless Clinic run by the Department of Public Health;
  • Soon to be completed Veterans Commons at 150 Otis – 76 new SRO units in a historic City-landmarked building that will serve homeless U.S. veterans with support services including case management, mental health counseling, drug dependency, and employment programs will be provided by the City’s Human Services Agency, the Veterans Administration, and Swords to Plowshares; and
  • Bond closing for Candlestick Heights – located in the Bayview, Candlestick Heights, the project will provide 196 units of affordable housing, constructed entirely without City subsidy.

Additionally, Mayor Lee announced an increase to assistance limits under the City’s Downpayment Assistance Loan Program (DALP). DALP provides financial assistance to qualifying first-time homebuyers through deferred payment loans that are repaid to the City. Earlier this year, the maximum amount of the loan was reduced to $70,000 per household due to lack of funding. With the passage of Proposition C, the limits have been returned to their original levels of $100,000 per household.

The Housing Trust Fund begins with a general fund revenue capture in year one of $20 million and increase to $50 million over time. It is estimated that $1.5 billion will be invested in affordable housing production and housing programs over the next 30 years. The Housing Trust Fund will:

The Housing Trust Fund begins with a general fund revenue capture in year one of $20 million and increase to $50 million over time. It is estimated that $1.5 billion will be invested in affordable housing production and housing programs over the next 30 years. The Housing Trust Fund will:

  • Develop more than 9,000 units of permanently affordable housing for residents whose average median income (AMI) is 60 percent or below;
  • Create incentives for onsite below market rate housing and make housing more accessible for moderate income families;
  • Invest at least $15 million over the first five years to expand the City’s down payment assistance program (DALP) which provides interest-free loans to moderate income homebuyers who are looking to purchase their first home in San Francisco. DALP will also include a new program to assist the City’s first responders in the purchase of a home in San Francisco;
  • Create a Housing Stabilization Program to help distressed low and moderate income residents remain in their homes; and
  • Create a Complete Neighborhoods Infrastructure Grant program to fund public realm improvements such as “pocket” parks and child care facilities for growing neighborhoods.

The Housing Trust Fund will capture revenue from former Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Tax Increment, a small portion of Hotel Tax that has been appropriated yearly for affordable housing, plus an additional $13 million in new General Fund revenue from an increase in business license fees. The consensus business tax reform measure, Proposition E, which also passed on the November ballot, will generate $28.5 million in the first year – $13 million of which will go to fund affordable and workforce housing.

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Cell Towers Find An Unexpected New Home In Oakland

Inside the bell tower of the Church of St. Leo the Great, constructed in 1926 on a corner of Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, isn’t the obvious spot for a cell antenna, but that’s where AT&T installed one.

Across the state, wireless companies are installing an increasing number of cell sites inside church steeples and bell towers. With the growing use of tablets, smartphones and other wireless devices, the wireless industry has approached churches because of their height and residential locations, where putting new towers would be difficult.

The practice has created additional work for property tax assessors, who are responsible for determining how much of the church’s property is no longer tax-exempt. Churches and other nonprofits often are exempt from property taxes, but only if the property is used for religious or charitable purposes. If property is used for commercial purposes, such as leasing space for a cell tower, tax assessors must charge the organizations.

For most churches, the extra revenue for hosting the cell towers generally exceeds the hit they might take from increased property taxes. Leases can range from $2,000 to $4,000 per month, depending on the church’s location. Officials at the Church of St. Leo the Great did not respond to requests for comment about their lease.

At Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church in San Ramon, a contract with T-Mobile brings in between $25,000 and $30,000 a year for the church, said Pastor Martin Scales. The church approached cell companies when it was constructing a new building six years ago because it knew the companies were having trouble putting antennas in the area.

Although the church lost part of its property tax exemption, the cell site revenue puts it ahead financially, Scales said. And it’s a solution for cell companies looking to place antennas.

“Nobody can tell that they’re there unless they’re sharped-eyed and looking for them,” Scales said.

An AT&T spokeswoman said the company has worked with a lot of churches and is committed to camouflaging the infrastructure so that it blends with the community. T-Mobile prefers to install antennas on existing structures whenever possible, spokesman Steve Caplan said in a statement.

Amy Storey, spokeswoman for CTIA – The Wireless Association, said many wireless companies are grappling with increasing demand.

“The industry looks to all types of existing structures in addition to church steeples – fire stations, hospitals, etc., in neighborhoods where there is growing demand and a shortage of suitable sites for new towers,” she said in a statement.

The difficulty of installing new towers in neighborhoods where residents often object to them has spawned an offshoot industry – several companies now specialize in disguising cell sites.

“California is really the hotbed of concealment,” said Chris Hills, the western region sales manager for Stealth Concealment Solutions. “There’s more concealment there than anywhere in the world.” The company has installed cell sites in flagpoles, church steeples, trees and boulders on behalf of all the major service providers, he said.

No one tracks how many churches in California have installed cell sites statewide, so it’s difficult to estimate how many have had their property taxes increased.

In any case, churches lose only a fraction of their tax exemption, determined either by the square footage leased to the cell company or the value of the lease. It isn’t clear how much additional revenue counties might be collecting. But enough assessors were asking questions about the church leases that the California State Board of Equalization issued guidelines in 2008 to help county assessors determine how much churches should pay in property taxes.

In San Diego County, how much more property tax a church has to pay depends on the income it is receiving from the cell company. If a lease is for $100,000 and the assessed property value of the church is $1 million, for example, it would lose one-tenth of its exemption, said Jeff Olson, division chief of assessment services at the San Diego County assessor’s office.

Just finding the cell towers can require some detective work on the part of county assessors.

“Most churches don’t realize that that would affect their exemption,” said Eric Gayden, a senior assessment technician at the Orange County Assessor Department.

The Alameda County assessor’s office usually learns about the new cell sites through permits filed by the cell companies when they’re installing the antennas, said Brian Hitomi, the chief deputy assessor.

Hitomi said the county is still processing the permit filed by AT&T for the cell site at Church of St. Leo the Great, so it hasn’t seen any increase in property taxes yet.

This article comes to us courtesy of California Watch and the Huffington Post.

By Kendall Taggart

Kendall Taggart is an investigative reporter for California Watch, a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. 

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SFMOMA Receives Gifts That Include Over 470 Photographs

Artworks Pledged to Collections Campaign Deepen Museum’s Renowned Photography Holdings

Shomei Tomatsu, Eiko Ôshima, Actress in the Film Shiiku 

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) announced today promised gifts of 473 photographs from three separate collectors, adding significant new depth to the museum’s holdings in 20th-century American and Japanese photography. A pledge of twenty-six photographs by Diane Arbus from San Francisco collector and gallerist Jeffrey Fraenkel doubles SFMOMA’s holdings of work by the artist and continues the museum’s dedication to collecting artists in depth. Two additional gifts—one from an anonymous donor, the other from the Kurenboh Collection in Tokyo—strengthen, in particular, the museum’s collection of works by Japanese photographers; the nearly 350 Japanese works included in these gifts cement SFMOMA’s standing as home to the largest collection of Japanese photography in the United States. The three gifts announced today also include photographs by other important artists already held in SFMOMA’s collection—such as Robert Adams, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Irving Penn, and Garry Winogrand.

SFMOMA was one of the first museums to collect and present photography as an art form, and 75 years later it continues to be home to innovative scholarship and exhibitions of the medium. Together with the museum’s existing collection of more than 16,000 photographs—its largest collection of objects—these gifts will expand opportunities for the public to encounter and understand the history of photography, and further affirm SFMOMA’s long-held position as a leader in the field.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of these collectors, who share our vision for a dynamic forum for photography at the museum,” said SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra. “The gifts to our Collections Campaign represent a major step forward in our photography program. They also contribute to the qualitative and quantitative growth of SFMOMA’s collection, which is both a stimulus for and a result of the museum’s upcoming expansion.”

SFMOMA Senior Curator of Photography Sandra S. Phillips said, “These extraordinary photographs make it possible to present important artists in the collection in even greater depth and context, and promote further synergy between our collection and our ambitious exhibitions program. The Arbus gift adds to our growing list of artists who are comprehensively represented in SFMOMA’s collection, while the Japanese works make our collection the best of its type in the country.”

The 26 works from an untitled series that Diane Arbus made at residences for the mentally disabled between 1969 and 1971—her largest body of pictures—represent a significant departure for the artist, displaying an unprecedented gravitas. The group of photographs adds to SFMOMA’s existing holdings of Arbus’s work and is a gift that recognizes the museum’s groundbreaking role as the organizer of the 2004 exhibition Diane Arbus Revelations, the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s photographs in more than 30 years and the first fully supported by her family and estate.

Highlights of the second promised gift of 185 photographs, from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, include 80 iconic pictures by major Japanese photographers Nobuyoshi Araki, Masahisa Fukase, Rinko Kawauchi, Yasumasa Morimura, Daido Moriyama, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Hiroshi Yamazaki, and Kohei Yoshiyuki, many of which were included in SFMOMA’s 2009 exhibition The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography. Another highlight of the gift is a rare and important series of photogravures by Takuma Nakahira entitled La nuit, originally printed for an exhibition at the Sixième Biennale de Paris in 1969.

The third gift of 262 photographs comprises exceptional prints and publications from the Kurenboh Collection, based in Tokyo. Spanning the 1930s to the present, the Kurenboh group features works by renowned artists Naoya Hatakeyama, Daido Moriyama, Shōmei Tōmatsu, and Ken Morisawa, as well as numerous pictures by emerging and contemporary Japanese photographers whose work has yet to debut in the United States, such as Masumi Kura, Toshiya Murakoshi, and Keiko Sasaoka. The gift has breadth as well as significant depth, with many artists represented by concentrations of work from various series. In addition to artworks, the Kurenboh donation includes a remarkable collection of nearly 800 rare publications—monographs, exhibition catalogues, and serials—which will allow the museum to establish the Kurenboh Collection at the SFMOMA Research Library.

About SFMOMA’s Collections Campaign

Initiated in January 2009 in conjunction with the museum’s 75th anniversary, SFMOMA’s Collections Campaign went public in February 2011 with the announcement of 195 promised gifts of art from nine leading Bay Area collectors, who are spearheading the campaign to strengthen the museum’s collection. The pledges encompassed major works by artists such as Robert Adams, Joseph Beuys, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman, Jackson Pollock, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, and David Smith; and spanned all media, including modern and contemporary painting, sculpture, photography, design, and video. The campaign is led by a committee chaired by longtime patrons Helen Schwab and Robin Wright, and its members include Trustees Carla EmilBob FisherMimi HaasDavid MahoneyChara SchreyerNorman Stone, and Pat Wilson.

About SFMOMA’s Expansion

Developed by architectural firm Snøhetta in collaboration with SFMOMA and EHDD of San Francisco, the museum’s expansion project—expected to be completed in 2016—will significantly enhance gallery and education spaces, enabling SFMOMA to better showcase its expanded permanent collection and serve its growing audiences. In November 2011, SFMOMA unveiled design details featuring free-access ground-level galleries and public spaces, and new educational areas. The public can stay up to date on the latest expansion news by visiting the expansion section of SFMOMA’s website at


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The San Francisco Symphony Celebrates The New Year With Its Annual New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball Monday, December 31 at 8 P.M. at Davies Symphony Hall

Celebration includes SF Symphony Orchestra performance, dancing to The Martini Brothers, Super Diamond, and The Peter Mintun Orchestra, and cocktail party with desserts and savories in the auditorium and lobbies of Davies Symphony Hall

The San Francisco Symphony welcomes 2013 with its annual New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball December 31, 2012. Michael Francis  leads the Orchestra and soprano Susanna Phillips  in a concert with the Orchestra of well-loved waltzes, and masked party-goers dance the night away before and after the Orchestra’s performance to the big band sounds of the Peter Mintun Orchestra, the swing music of the Martini Brothers, and Super Diamond playing Neil Diamond covers. Revelers anticipate the countdown to 2013 with complimentary sparkling wine, beginning right after the Orchestra concert, and culminating in a celebratory toast and a massive balloon drop at midnight. 

The December 31 event stars the San Francisco Symphony, conductor Michael Francis, soprano Susanna Phillips , and members of Dance Through Time. Everyone attending the event receives a complimentary mask as they enter the beautifully decorated lobby. Beginning at 8 p.m., The Martini Brothers   entertain and perform their “swingin’ cocktail music” in the lobby. Starting at 9 p.m., the San Francisco Symphony, led by Francis, performs with dancers from Dance Through Time on stage in Davies Symphony Hall.

Following the Symphony concert, guests are invited to celebrate and dance on the Davies Hall stage to The Peter Mintun Orchestra. Super Diamond, covering the hits and gems of Neil Diamond, entertains in the First Tier lobby. Immediately following the Symphony performance, guests enjoy complimentary sparkling wine, desserts, savories, and party favors. As the clock strikes midnight, 2,013 colorful balloons cascade from the ceiling and the crowd welcomes in 2013.

A special pre-concert dinner package includes a cocktail reception beginning at 6 p.m. followed by a sumptuous three-course dinner (wine included) in the lobby of the War Memorial Opera House. The dinner package also includes sparkling wine served in the Loge Level lobby at intermission. Dinner packages begin at $160. Parking is included. Call the Davies Symphony Hall box office for more details on the special pre-concert dinners at (415) 864-6000, or visit

Susanna Phillips received the Metropolitan Opera’s prestigious 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award. This season, her fifth at the Met, she performs as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She sings the role of Stella in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire at Carnegie Hall, and makes her solo recital debut there.

Michael Francis is a San Francisco Symphony audience favorite, having conducted the 2011 New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball concert and the 2011 and 2012 Summer & the Symphony classical concerts.


Monday, December 31 at 9 pm

Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Avenue


Orchestra program:
Michael Francis conductor
Susanna Phillips soprano
Dance Through Time dancers
Members of the San Francisco Symphony

Strauss, Jr. Overture to Die Fledermaus
Tchaikovsky (arr. Stravinsky) Bluebird Pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty, Opus 66
Strauss, Jr. Voices of Spring Waltz, Opus 410
Elgar Chanson de Nuit
Strauss, Jr. Perpetuum Mobile, Opus 257
Delibes Dance of the Automatons and Waltz from Coppelia, Suite No. 1
Rodgers (arr. Walter) Carousel Waltz from Carousel
Gershwin “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess
Herbert “Italian Street Song” from Naughty Marietta
Strauss, Jr. By the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz, Opus 314

Post-Concert Performances:

The Peter Mintun Orchestra with dancing on the Davies Symphony Hall stage
Super Diamond in the First Tier lobby

$85-$195. Tickets are available at 415-864-6000, or the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office  on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street in San Francisco. Order a special pre-concert dinner package and enjoy a cocktail reception beginning at 6pm followed by a 3-course dinner in the lobby of the War Memorial Opera House. Dinner packages also include complimentary sparkling wine at intermission in the Loge level lobby and begin at $160. To reserve your place at the pre-concert dinner, call 415-864-6000.

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Bernadette Peters And Her Band Perform With Members Of The San Francisco Symphony At Davies Symphony Hall Friday, March 29 At 8 Pm

Singer and actress Bernadette Peters performs standards and her hits from a decades-long career in musical theater, on the concert stage, and in television and film, Friday, March 29, 2013 at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. Accompanied by her band and members of the San Francisco Symphony, Peters will perform signature American songbook classics by Stephen Sondheim and Rodgers and Hammerstein, among others. Tickets are on sale Tuesday, November 27 at 10 a.m. through, by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office, on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street in San Francisco.

Long regarded as one of the premiere interpreters of the songs of Stephen Sondheim, Peters in 2011 performed on Broadway as Sally in the critically acclaimed production of Sondheim’s Follies, after a highly successful run at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Her performance in the role earned Peters her ninth Drama Desk award nomination; she has won the honor three times. In 2010, she starred in Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning masterpiece A Little Night Music opposite Elaine Stritch.

Peters has recorded six solo albums and several singles. Three of her albums have been nominated for the Grammy Award. She has recorded most of the Broadway and off-Broadway musicals she has appeared in, and four of these cast albums have won Grammy Awards. Her most recent recording is on the two-disc soundtrack to Follies (2011).

In 2003, Peters received her seventh Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Momma Rose in Sam Mendes’ record-breaking Broadway revival of Gypsy, and her performance was captured on the Grammy award-winning Gypsy cast recording. She has won the Tony Award twice for her performances, and this year, Peters received her third Tony, The Isabelle Stevenson Award. This special Tony acknowledges an individual from the theatre community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations. Along with good friend Mary Tyler Moore, she co-founded Broadway Barks !, an organization that promotes the adoption of shelter animals. To support Broadway Barks!, Peters has written two children’s books, both illustrated by Liz Murphy. The first, “Broadway Barks,” is about a scrappy dog, named after her dog Kramer, and the pleasure of adopting a pet. Peters wrote the words and music to a lullaby, titled “Kramer’s Song,” which is included on a CD in the book.

Her recent screen credits include two guest appearances on NBC’s new TV hit series SMASH, which begins its second season in February 2013. She has also appeared in the Lifetime movie, Living Proof opposite Harry Connick, Jr.; a guest-starring role in the two-hour 2008 season premiere of the ABC-TV series Grey’s Anatomy, and a recurring role on Ugly Betty. Peters received an Emmy nomination for her performance in the hit TV series Ally McBeal. She has appeared in several performing arts specials, including Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall, and also played an opera diva-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown in Terrence McNally’s The Last Mile, both for PBS’ Great Performances series. Her seventeen films include Pennies From Heaven, for which she received a Golden Globe Award, The Jerk with Steve Martin, The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds, and Silent Movie with Mel Brooks.

Friday, March 29, 2013 at 8 pm
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue

Tickets: $20-98. Tickets are available at , by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office, on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street in San Francisco.




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TJPA Approves Final Sales Agreement for Transbay Transit Tower Parcel

$190 Million sets record land value for City

Today the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) Board of Directors finalized the agreement to sell TJPA property to Hines Corporation, paving the way for construction of the landmark Transbay Transit Tower. The State of California donated the Tower site to the TJPA for construction of the 61-story Tower, which will contain 1.4 million square feet of office space and serve as a beacon for the City’s Transit hub in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

Hines has agreed to purchase the 50,000 square foot Tower site, located directly north of the future Transit Center fronting on Mission Street, for more than $190 million.  On a per square foot basis, the sale price for the Tower site is the highest paid for a large development property in San Francisco history.

“This agreement marks another major milestone in the development of the new Transbay Transit Center,” said Executive Director of the TJPA, Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan. “The proceeds from the sale of the Tower site and other Transbay parcels will be invested directly into the Transbay Transit Center Program.  This historic project is creating jobs, stimulating economic growth in our City and region, giving back to the community, creating housing, and helping the environment.”

The Transbay Tower and the Transit Center are both designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, the architecture firm chosen in a 2007 design and development competition.  At 1,070 feet, the Tower is slated to be the tallest building on the West Coast and will transform the skyline of downtown San Francisco.  The approval of the purchase and sale agreement comes on the heels of the San Francisco Planning Commission’s approval of the tower height.

“The Transit Center and Tower are two projects that are transforming transportation in our City as well as transforming the SoMa neighborhood,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “The TJPA’s newest transaction to advance these two projects is critical to the investment in the future of San Francisco.”

The Transbay Transit Center, known as the “Grand Central Station of the West,” is a revolutionary transportation facility that will transform the South of Market District into the new heart of downtown San Francisco. The Transit Center will connect eight Bay Area counties and 11 transit systems, including future High Speed Rail. The money from the purchase of the Tower parcel will help fund construction of this state-of-the-art, LEED Gold facility and national model for transit-oriented development. The $4.2 billion project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2017.

A ground break date for the Transbay Transit Tower has not yet been determined.


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Independent Living Resource Center Launches New Website and Capital Campaign

The Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (ILRCSF) has unveiled a new website ( and launched a capital campaign to raise funds for a planned move to a fully accessible, ground-floor space in the heart of the City’s SOMA district.

ILRCSF is San Francisco’s only cross-disability organization operating under the Independent Living philosophy; a movement, which asserts that people with disabilities are the best experts on their needs. ILRCSF holds that people with disabilities must organize themselves for political power, and that taking the initiative to design and promote better solutions for their inclusion is the best way to achieve full access. Since 1976, ILRCSF – staffed almost entirely by people with disabilities – has offered support, advocacy, and information regarding the rights of people with disabilities to individuals, educational institutions, and the small business community.
“The San Francisco Independent Living Resource Center has never wavered in its commitment and resolve to make our community accessible for all,” says Anne Hinton, Executive Director of the Department of Aging and Adult Services for the City and County of San Francisco.
Programs at ILRCSF include everything from peer counseling and help with assistive technologies, to economic empowerment workshops and accessible housing advocacy. In recent years, the agency has expanded outreach to include a program geared towards youth empowerment and has now become home to a number of peer support groups including a Veterans’ Art Guild, in which military veterans living with service-related disabilities work on creative projects ranging from photography and sculpture to creative writing.
“Our primary focus has always been to make the greater community a more accessible, livable place for people with disabilities,” explains ILRCSF Executive Director Jessie Lorenz. “It is becoming increasingly clear that the best way to achieve that end is to foster opportunities for people with disabilities to connect with one another, to develop community, and to become engaged advocates.”
Their new website at has been designed to increase community participation and engagement, and the campaign to fund their move to a fully accessible location are the most recent steps ILRCSF has taken to meet the growing needs of the consumers they serve.
“This is an exciting time for us. We’re about to embark on an journey that revolves around a large, state-of-the -art, purpose-built, ground floor level, fully accessible Independent Living Center in an area where people live, work, and raise families,” said ILRCSF Board President Arnie Lerner. “By welcoming people of all abilities into a space designed with their needs in mind, and with plenty of room to grow, we are taking the first steps towards becoming an incubator and community center where the Independent Living Movement can build the next generation of leaders who will be empowered and engaged citizens who are fully integrated in their communities.”
For more information visit
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City Arts & Lectures Announces the Line-up for “On Art & Politics 2013″

City Arts and Lectures 7-event series “On Art and Politics” features leading writers and thinkers on a range of topics, from sociology to literary fiction, a theatre performance—and, a “last waltz” special event celebrating our 32 years at the Herbst Theatre as we move our programs to the newly renovated Nourse Theatre nearby.  Tickets ($20-$27) are currently available to City Arts members only and will go on sale to the general public December 3.

All shows are 7:30pm at the Herbst Theatre.  To purchase tickets or for more info, visit <>

A Celebration of Harold Pinter: A Theatrical Portrait of the Late Playwright <>
Performed by Julian Sands | Directed by John Malkovich
Monday, January 14, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $22/$27

Jared Diamond in conversation with Roy Eisenhardt <>
Thursday, January 24, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $22/$27

Al Gore in conversation with Barbara Kingsolver
<> Tuesday, February 12, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $22/$27

Jamaica Kincaid in conversation with Frances Phillips <>
Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $22/$27

Joyce Carol Oates in conversation with Robert Hass <>
Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $22/$27\

Daniel Kahneman <>
Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $22/$27

Alison Bechdel in conversation with Julia Bryan-Wilson <>
Thursday, April 4, 2013, 7:30 pm
Venue: Herbst Theatre
Tickets: $22/$27

The Last Foxtrot: Celebrating 32 Years at the Herbst Theatre <>  *Special Event
Garrison Keillor, Calvin Trillin & friends, with music by Peter Duchin
Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 7:30 pm
Tickets: $40/$50

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Bay Area Marks World AIDS Day with Events and Education

Here are some of the events going on in the Bay Area to mark World AIDS Day on December 1:

8:40 a.m.: “Charting the Way Forward,” a lecture by Dr. Diane Havlir, as part of the medical management of HIV/AIDS Conference
Location: Intercontinental Hotel, 888 Howard St., San Francisco

10 a.m.: Unveiling and Reception for AIDS Memorial Quilt
Location: 225 37th Ave., San Mateo

Noon: San Francisco General Hospital Wards 5A, 5B, 86 honored with Local Unsung Hero Award
Location: National AIDS Memorial Grove, Golden Gate Park, Bowling Green Drive, San Francisco

Noon: Free HIV Testing
Location: Monterey Institute of International Studies, Holland Center, 460 Pierce St., Monterey

12:10 p.m.: Special service to be held for World AIDS Day
Location: Grace Episcopal Cathedral, 1100 California St., San Francisco

5 p.m.: Candlelight Vigil
Location: Monterey Institute of International Studies, Holland Center, 460 Pierce St., Monterey

5 p.m.: Free HIV Testing, part of “Paint the Castro Red.”
Location: Qbar, 456 Castro St., San Francisco

6 p.m.: Assemblyman Bill Monning to appear at World AIDS Day Panel of Presenters
Location: CSU Monterey Bay, 100 Campus Center, Seaside

6:30 p.m.: Candlelight Vigil, part of “Paint the Castro Red.”
Location: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market streets, San Francisco

7 p.m.: World AIDS Day screening of “Still Around.”
Location: Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., San Francisco

7:00 p.m. AIDS Emergency Fund 30th Annivesary Gala UNDER THE BIG TOP with Martha Wash                  Location: AIDS Memorial Grove, Golden Gate Park

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Arthur Beren Shoes Supports Project Open Hand This Holiday Season

Arthur Beren Shoes, a retail luxury shoe store located in San Francisco’s Union Square, is excited to announce that it will be raising money for Project Open Hand this holiday season through a joint promotion on Facebook.  Through the months of November and December, for every new sign up on Facebook, Arthur Beren Shoes will donate $5 to Project Open Hand up to a total amount of $5,000.

In addition, each entrant will also have the opportunity to win a free pair of shoes valued up to $500 in our random shoe giveaway.


About Project Open Hand

Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides meals and groceries for people with symptomatic HIV/AIDS and breast cancer and meals for people who are homebound and critically ill. They also prepare congregate lunches for seniors over 60 years of age. They serve San Francisco and Alameda Counties, engaging more than 100 volunteers every day to nourish the community. Learn more at

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