History

From Lick to Main: Noah Veltman on his amazing interactive SF street name history map

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When I saw Noah Veltman's interactive SF street (and landmark) name history map pop up on feed last week, I was instantly engrossed. (It was especially refreshing after staring at this depressing interactive map of Ellis evictions.) Of course I looked up my own street immediately, duh.

Many of us have encountered various bits of street name history along our travels, but here was a comprehensive aggregator that was fun to play with, and covered James Lick Freeway to Main Street, all in one handy spot. Did you know that Baker street was named after Edward Dickinson Baker, the lawyer who defended accused US Marshal killer Charles Cora, before Cora was lynched by the Vigilance Commitee in 1856? Or that Moraga was named for José Joaquín Moraga, founder of San Jose? Or how about Germania -- it's actually named after German people!

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The Performant: Whose story?

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Sifting through the past at The SF History Expo

If history is a tale written by the victors, one wonders who San Francisco’s victors are. A chimeral concept as much as a destination, represented by a Phoenix rising from its own destruction, San Francisco has been lauded as a land of opportunity and “the city that knows how,” and detracted as “ingrown (and) self-obsessed,” a “golden handcuff,” and a “Babylon-by-the-Bay” ever since it surfaced in the national consciousness. A city where eccentrics are celebrated, “family values” extend beyond heteronormativity, and the very real threat of natural disaster colors the mundane with an idealized wash of importance. Read more »

Celebrate Black History Month with four days of sf|noir food and drink

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This month, you can observe Black History Month by attending a filmmaking discussion, a childrens dance class, by going to a lecture at USF -- check out this and this event rundown for inspiration. And given how food-oriented we are as a region, it was only natural that eventually you'd be able to eat and drink while celebrating African American heritage, not to mention the black culinary geniuses that add to it here in the Bay. 

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The Performant: Paris is learning

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Adventures in 'pataphysics

Well, pschitt! Although Alfred Jarry -- schoolboy playwright, raconteur, and progenitor of 'pataphysics, “the science of imaginary solutions” -- died 105 years ago of decidedly prosaic malady tuberculosis, his outré influence lives on. Adopted and championed by generations of outsider artists, avant-garde writers, and revolutionary thinkers, the self-styled “Pere Ubu” gave artistic anarchy a nexus during his lifetime, an iconic figurehead after.

Last weekend, the four-day Carnivàle Pataphysique, part commemoration and part investigation, gave amateur pataphysicians, situationists, and conceptual artists a free zone to mingle, to expound, and to congeal, over lectures, concerts, puppet shows, and other unique performative opportunities in and around the practically imaginary stronghold of “North Beach,” a land where strip clubs and surrealists collide.

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The comic formally known as 'The Iron Chink'

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It's a symbol of the atrocities suffered by Chinese Americans on this continent: a lumbering machine that stripped thousands of their livelihood and was even named for the epithet used against them, the Iron Chink.

For Escape To Gold Mountain graphic novelist and community activist David H.T. Wong, who will read from the book at a Sun/11 event in Berkeley's Eastwind Books, the 1903 invention of the mechanized fish gutting machine that stole cannery jobs from Asian immigrants -- who already had to fight racism to find jobs at all -- made the perfect title for his historical graphic novel. 

But, and perhaps this is a sign of the historical progression that Wong converted into panels for us in his graphic novel, things just don't get named the c-word anymore.  Read more »

A sizzling tale

'Zodiac' author Robert Graysmith talks San Francisco history and his new book, 'Black Fire'

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cheryl@sfbg.com

LIT Every San Franciscan has at least some knowledge of the city's pre-1906 earthquake days (Gold Rush!), with the more curious able to rattle off a few more random tidbits (Emperor Norton!)Read more »

Generations confer over La Peña's second skin

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I'm sitting in on a meeting between two generations of muralists. In name, our encounter was designed as an interview about La Peña Cultural Center's plans to redo its decades-old facade, a historic piece that right now is a 3-D tableau named "Song of Unity" and meant to represent the people of North and South America coming together in art.

But it has become clear to me the interviewer that's it's way more momentous to let these groups talk largely unimpeded by my questions. Two people who created the mural in 1978 are speaking with two people who will design its rebirth in 2012 about changes in the world of street art over the last 34 years. It's the first time the four have met together. Assasinated Chilean artist-activist Victor Jara's detached hands strum a guitar in silent soundtrack over us as we sit on folding chairs in front of the mural in question. 

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This toke's for history

A counterculture icon captures the imperfection of weed's hippie renaissance

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caitlin@sfbg.com

HERBWISE We have to be careful about how we are documenting marijuana. If we aren't, future generations might be forgiven for thinking that cannabis culture occurred solely in courtrooms and during federal raids. After all, when do you read an account of a really great high, or the everyday reality of scoring from a dealer (and not going to jail for it, natch) off the pages of High Times?Read more »

Making history: Joanne Griffith's 'Redefining Black Power' project comes to the Bay

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"Joanne [Griffith]'s work is centered on one theme: not to offer information as a point of journalistic fact, but to act as a conduit for debate and conversation, especially around issues relating to the African diaspora experience." So writes Brian Shazor, director of the Pacifica Radio Archives, in the foreward to Griffith's new book Redefining Black Power: Reflections on the State of Black America (City Lights Books, 206pp, $16.95). Griffith will be presenting her work, part of an interactive project to archive the state of African Americans in the United States in the Bay Area this week -- starting tonight (Wed/8) at the Museum of the African Diaspora. Read more »

This is our country, too: Fred Korematsu's daughter on her father's civil rights legacy

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“One never knows after someone dies what happens to their legacy. Sometimes it becomes a part of history and sometimes it grows,” Karen Korematsu -remarked in a phone interview with the Guardian this week. Her father, civil rights activist Fred Korematsu, will be honored statewide with his own official day on Mon/30. You can celebrate his legacy locally at the Oakland Museum of California’s Lunar New Year event on Sun/29, where Karen will be speaking about her dad’s contribution to our cultural heritage. Read more »