Videos by cassidyf
Alongside the Caltrain tracks, there's recently sprouted a hooverville of car dwellers. Cardboard and plastic bags cover van windows, garbage lines the sidewalk and intermingles with human feces, and many of the cars have deflated tires or are otherwise defunct. For many passersby it's a disturbing sight chalked up to be laid off workers, foreclosed home owners and other victims of this increasingly depressed economy.
Discussions of the dichotomous nature of the Mission approach tedium, with shootings in front of valet stands, or the whole "delicate flower" thing creating enough dramatic tension to launch a thousand newspaper columns.\r\n\r\nThe organizers of the Mission Arts Performance Project (MAPP) aren't content to just wring their hands: they're doing what they can to boost the Mission's thriving arts community while acknowledging its more challenging sides with their bi-monthly, multidisciplinary, intercultural event night.\r\n\r\nConnecting visual artists, musicians, poets, dancers and poets, MAPP weaves together storefronts, warehouses, studios and homes to form an art walk that seems to turn into a huge multi-block party. Homeowners lay down stages in their living rooms, scraggly artists gussy up and serve hors d'oeuvres.\r\n\r\nThe night of Saturday April 4, MAPP held its bi-monthly multidisciplinary, intercultural event night. Connecting visual artists, musicians, poets, dancers and poets,
Organizing Cesar Chavez Day festivities has never been harder than it was April 4, 2009. After California established the labor and civil rights leader's March 31 birthday as a paid state holiday in 2000, the following year a parade 15,000-people strong marched along Market Street. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state has eliminated its entire multi-million dollar budget for supporting the holiday, including $50,000 to the city. The State of California has also decided it won't recommit funding to the Cesar Chavez Club, a statewide learn-through-service after school program in eight of the city's schools. Organizer Eva Royale, with no cents to spend, relied this year on volunteers - most of them stoic devotees - to assemble a parade of only a couple thousand marchers. She's frustrated but, along with a groundswell of supporters who pushed Chavez's birthday to become a state holiday, she's determined to see the state holiday get nationalized under the supportive Obama administration.
We've all heard the story of the golden fire hydrant in the Mission, the one credited with saving much of of the city from fires resulting from the 1906 earthquake. A big component of the 1906 earthquake anniversary celebrations is a ceremonial repainting of the hydrant by survivors of that long-ago quake. Cassidy Friedman was on hand Saturday not just to capture the moment, but to separate the facts from the myth of the Little Giant.
The Marin Breastfeeding Coalition has earned a great deal of international attention. Not to mention it's brewed controversy on sfgate.com. With its cardboard cutouts of mothers breastfeeding, several other counties want to import the model. But in Marin County, the residents are only amused to see a sight they know all too well and accept without hesitation.
Mark Pauline's Survival Research Labs fought for years with the San Francisco Fire Department to keep its place as a fringe artistic institution in the city. Last fall, after producing 50 explosive shows over the course of nearly three decades, the Godfather of industrial fire art lost that fight and moved to Petaluma - a city Pauline says won't crack down on him for doing his trade, which consists of building everything from jet-powered rockets to flame tornadoes and stabbing machines, then featuring them at shows across the globe. Most local industrial fire artists draw the distinction between the relatively benign work they do and what SRL, the periodically law-crossing, original industrial fire art organization has done under the leadership of its swashbuckling director since 1978. And while industrial fire art is exploding in San Francisco, there may no longer be a place here for SRL, which seems alienated from the city at nearly every level. SRL's south Mission neighborhood has changed, with lofts replacing industrial spaces and Ferraris replacing work trucks on the street out front. The fire department was threatening a lawsuit against Pauline for driving his forklift with no permit, unless he left the city, he said (although Pauline says he has documents proving this, the SFFD could not corroborate the claim). And since his rusty soot-covered work den in the Mission, a nook that used to go largely unnoticed by firefighters, is now considered hot real estate, the landlord doubled his rent ... twice. All these recent developments were enough to bring Pauline to a fast boil. San Francisco is not a place for marginal characters anymore, Pauline said. Basically, in the city of San Francisco, you can't do what I do anymore. The city has changed and the makeup of the city reflects that and the kind of things that can be allowed to happen in the city reflects that. Although Pauline said the fire department has had it out for him since the mid-90s, the department claims it's played neutral all along. Few top-ranking veterans at the department even recognize his or his company's name. They don't care who you are, if you are coming in with some big production company, saying this is how they let us do it somewhere else, they don't care, spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said. You are going to do it by the books. In my personal opinion...his reaction to everything, it's kind of the artistic mentality: everybody's against me. Things change and we have to fight or change with it and he's fought it and he's kind of lost the battle, she added. The Chronicle's Editor-At-Large Phil Bronstein described Pauline as one of the most explosively creative people you'll ever meet. He called SRL leaving a tragedy, and a clear sign that art is leaking out through the city's borders. Pauline could have made do with less. He could have moved his lab into a less expensive space. He also could have applied for grants, which he refuses to do because he feels that being beholden to another institution could undermine his creative autonomy. I think it's quite possible that SRL could continue doing what it's been doing in San Francisco said Ian Baker, a fire artist for Interpretive Arson in Oakland, who last year considered moving his outfit into the SF. But you don't want to spend that money on rent. You want to spend the money on hydraulic actuators. At the heart of Pauline's art is a renegade attitude. Decades ago, he defaced billboards with non-political artistic messages, Bronstein recalled. He's perhaps best known in the city for a Nov. 1995 show tabbed Crime Wave, which he held in Union Square without seeking permits. The show represented Pauline's retaliation against the fire department for attempts by the department to unjustly restrict future shows in San Francisco, he claimed. We did every possible violation we could think of... to make the fire department mad, he said. No one was injured but Pauline was charged and convicted with intent to injure the public with explosives and intent to injure the public with arson, but the judge spared him from jail time. In contrast to Pauline, the new wave of fire artists go out of their way to follow the law and to cultivate positive rapports with the fire department. The Flaming Lotus Girls, for example, test explosive devices in the desert and always get a permit for public exhibitions in Oakland and the city, said a leading member, Caroline Mills Miller. Two years ago, when Ian Baker, of Interpretive Arson, started burning propane as a performance tool at the annual street-level Burning Man Decompression party on Mariposa Street, the fire marshal told him to shut it off - even though Baker had obtained a permit, he said. Baker put up no protest. Instead, he wants to teach a class to fire fighters on how to enforce fire code, and to explain how his machines work. And he sees his relationship with the fire department improving. I feel like the San Francisco fire marshal's office is really coming around in this regard, he said. Miller, who operates at the Box Shop in Bayview/Hunter's Point, said she also hopes to build stronger ties to law enforcement and the police department. To be honest, we don't really have that much communication with the city, she said. It's probably to the detriment of both groups.
Food Inc., the much anticipated documentary about the food industry is coming to San Francisco theaters June 12 and promises to change the minds of food consumers about how the industry actually works. Kevin Robinson, of Medium Rare, interviews Director/Producer Robert Kenner about his controversial film (co-produced by Eric Schlosser, author Fast Food Nation) and what changes he hopes to see in the food industry. \r\nRobinson also digs into why the voices of the "opposition" are conspicuously absent from the documentary, while the viewer gets plenty of Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser fighting the status quo. \r\n\r\n
If you missed this year’s Maker Faire in San Mateo you’ve got 621 fewer reasons to be optimistic about the future of the world than the tens of thousands of people who did attend. Count one reason for each presenter. Held May 30 and May 31 at the San Mateo Expo Center, the world’s largest Do-It-Yourself fair saw a greater attendance than in the previous three years (since its inception), felt less geeky-fringe than ever, and more like it was standing at the forefront of a greening revolution. That’s exactly what it was tabbed to be. By design, the event was staged as makers’ answer to Pres. Barack Obama’s call to “begin again the work of remaking America.” Nearly without exception, it was innovation with a heart. All the inventions served a socially or ecologically friendly purpose, including a project to convert the Toyota Prius into a car that’s capable of running solely on electrical power. But as in the case of the converted Prius, which is still financially impractical, the idea seems cooler to most of us than it is viable. Other smaller operations, such as Dustin Zuckerman’s Santa Rosa Tool Library, which lends tools for any Sonoma County resident who cannot afford them, are the sort of thing I wish I’d known about before I dumped my life savings off at Home Depot. The list of fascinating projects goes on and on. The video highlights some of the best makers at the fair.
Parking tickets and court fees. They're pushing thousands of San Franciscans beyond what they can afford. Three tickets get handed out every minute, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle. More than four thousand court defendants are currently tagged for for failing to pay court fees, in large measure because they've recently been put out of work or lost their job. Publicly run community service programs allow people to work off their fines. But those programs are not reaching the poor. A local blogger says he accumulated so many "unavoidable" parking tickets he felt he had no other choice but to leave the city.
Directing Away We Go, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Jarhead, Revolutionary Road) takes one of the biggest leaps of his career: to comedy. Can he pull it off? After interviewing the director and co-stars John Krasinksi (that loveable geek in the Office) and Maya Rudolph (a UC Santa Cruz alum who plays Michelle Obama in SNL) Bonnie Steiger leaves no lingering doubt about it. “I’m going to go see it again and whoever doesn’t see it is a damn fool,” Steiger, a San Francisco film critic, exclaims in the interview. Check out this hysterical interview to see why Steiger’s sure this film will win you over.
San Francisco’s bison are going extinct. One of the six remaining buffalo was put down recently due to old age, according to zoo officials. With a shortfall in the city budget that's going to mean cuts for public safety or programs that serve the poor, the thousands of dollars the city may have to shell out to rescue the shrinking herd is no laughing matter. The last bill paid by tax payers to accommodate the herd was not cheap: $1.2 million for upgrading their home. Two rich donors have signaled they may help cover the city’s costs to breed them or buy more. Can San Francisco’s bison survive the economic slump?
Mr Ji and his wife have lived in the same apartment building on the edge of China Town for 18 years. Ten years ago, their Landlord, San Francisco City College, decided it was time to reclaim the space. All 17 poor families living there – including many disabled elderly who speak no English and cannot imagine another life beyond China Town – were offered money and told to leave. If you think this is just another sob story about the recession – displaced immigrants thrown out of their homes onto the cold mean streets -- guess again. Ji and his neighbors decided they had to do something...something that had never been done before. They managed to keep their apartment by having the San Francisco Community Land Trust buy the land under the building and sell them back their remodeled apartments at an affordable rate. Now they own their building and have formed a cooperative that will allow them to live indefinitely in China Town. At a time when San Francisco ranks top among cities for unaffordable rent, city officials say 53 Columbus Street Cooperative is a model for enabling the poor to hold onto affordable living in San Francisco.
The final spot on the 2009 All-Star National team was a no-go for Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval. But in the final stages of the vote, more fans went on the internet to have their say than ever before. The San Francisco baseball team's fans surprised even themselves when some voted hundreds of times (there was no limit), and others caste thousands of votes. This video captures how it all went down.
Two straight guys decide to have sex for an amateur porn film festival. Ninety percent of the movie you’re wondering why they want to do that, are they secretly gay, and will they get around to, well… humping. Naturally, gay audience members love this premise, said Humpday’s director, Lynn Shelton. But the test for Humpday won’t be in the Castro’s movie theaters – where it will be a sure hit -- as much as in movie theaters frequented by straight guys who may have a deeper aversion to discussing buddies crossing boundaries than any other subject.
The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival sits center stage in a worldwide controversy after deciding to present Rachel, a documentary made by Jewish-Israeli filmaker Simone Bitton about the death of Rachel Corrie by an Israeli Defense Force bulldozer while she was protesting home demolitions in Gaza.
Just a few hundred people turned out to watch veterans and ROTC members march down through downtown San Francisco as part of the Veterans Day Parade. This video investigates why. Hint: It's not only that, as one commenter on the SF Chronicle's Web site put it: "SF is the most communistic city in America".