Cover Story

Burning questions

Spark debuts at DocFest with a sympathetic look at Black Rock City LLC's intention to gift Burning Man back to the people. But is it true?


A documentary called Spark: A Burning Man Story is arriving on the big screen, with dreams of wide distribution, at a pivotal moment for the San Francisco-based corporation that has transformed the annual desert festival into a valuable global brand supported by a growing web of interconnected burner collectives around the world.Read more »

Vanishing city

Up against intense market pressure, longtime residents and community projects fade from SF


On a recent Tuesday night, some of the city's most influential developers, architects, and land-use lawyers gathered in a conference room at the ritzy W Hotel for a panel discussion, titled, "San Francisco's Housing Crisis: Can the Tech Boom Help Us?"

It was a provocative question by any measure, but equally intriguing was the lack of even a hint of objection to the dead-serious framing of increasing unaffordability as a "crisis."Read more »

Small Business Awards 2013

Bayview martial arts, Mission pan dulce, Chinatown foodies, sexy snaps, and more make the scene in this year's tribute to creative entrepreneurship


Welcome to a tradition we hold near and dear at the Guardian — our annual round-up of independent businesses that represent the best of entrepreneurship here in the Bay. From a local sweet shop that's defied the Nestle odds to become the Bay's best-loved ice cream treat to the Castro's best new spot for punting and catching, read on for our favorite small businesses now.



Nordic track

SFIFF offers an all-too-rare opportunity to appreciate Finnish cinema


SFIFF "The greatest Finnish movie ever made" — drop that phrase on someone (at least a non-Finn) and they will most likely make some crack suggesting there can't possibly be enough of them for the distinction to matter. But Finland has had a rich and idiosyncratic filmmaking history stretching back to 1907. It hardly begins and ends with Aki Kaurismäki, the droll minimalist who was the first (and still only) Finnish director to regularly win international distribution.Read more »

Screening is believing

Five must-see documentaries at the huge San Francisco International Film Festival. Plus: Rare Finnish movies and a ton of SFIFF previews.


Short takes: SFIFF week one

You're Next, Rosie, The Kill Team, The Patience Stone, and more reviews of film fest features



April 25-May 9, most shows $10-15

Various venues

festival.sffs.orgRead more »

Indicator city

If cutting edge San Francisco can't meet the challenge of climate change and related environmental issues, are we all doomed?


When biologists talk about the health of a fragile ecosystem, they often speak of an "indicator species." That's a critter — a fish, say, or a frog — whose health, or lack thereof, is a signal of the overall health of the system. These days, when environmentalists who think about politics as well as science look at San Francisco, they see an indicator city.Read more »

The Cat Pack

Quirky felines have gone past viral status to become legitimate celebrities. Now how will they use their fame?


PETS Lil Bub does not do corporate endorsements.

"I prefer going to my local pet store, so why would Bub endorse Petco?" says Mike Bridavsky, owner of the angel-faced, wide-eyed, underbite-blessed cat from Bloomington, Indiana who is one of the most prominent members of the Cat Pack, a term Bridavsky coins during our phone interview for the cadre of felines currently owning the Internet.Read more »

Precious Metal

With the release of her dark, avant-pop sophomore album, Oakland's Metal Mother is free to pursue her primal side


MUSIC A lot of elements needed to come together to inspire Metal Mother's new record, Ionika. You can almost picture the woman behind the sobriquet, crouching in some foggy wooded wonderland, scooping up soil and critters, ancient buried treasures of forgotten societies and precious metals. Before we get into specifics, let's slip off the mask. Metal Mother is really, mostly, the glossy coating of one delicate Oakland musician: Taara Tati.Read more »

FEAST: Adventures in crabbing

An amateur's guide to DIY crustacean hunting


FEAST I'll admit, the prospect of DIY crabbing during our Bodega Bay camping trip was enough to give me pause. But the thought of a pot full of freshly caught crabs cooking over a campfire was enough to kick off a quest to add "amateur crabber" to my resume.

Taking a cue from our stomachs, my camping crew did some research. We needed advice and supplies, and a single trip to the Outer Richmond yielded both.Read more »