For us San Francisco people, it seems like KUSF has just always been here. There was a time when I would walk down Haight Street and hear it spilling out of every store.

It was one of those. The greatest kind of non-commercial stations. It was a beacon. It brought people together.

A lot of us took KUSF for granted. Until one day it was gone. Sure, there were a bunch of alt-dot bands that broke on KUSF, but KUSF was more than that. It was more than Lollapalooza, more than Burning Man. It was 12 languages of diversity. It was San Francisco. Recently it was sold to one of those companies that buys bandwidth and bundles them up. One of those companies that knows how to make money by moving money around. I don't pretend to know how that stuff works.

But dig this: It turns out that USF (University of San Francisco) may not have been in the right to sell the station off in the first place. And letting that deal go down without a fight means your local station could be next. It's a serious precedent. So, some of us are fighting back. And fighting back requires money. A lot of people have volunteered their time and efforts. But they need all the money and awareness fit to print.

Don't take my word for it. Read about the KUSF sale in the NY Times.

Video after the jump.


Beth Lisick

Sometimes in tribute to Richard Nixon, I like to speak in the third person. I'll say things like, "Chuck doesn't like major-seventh chords." Or "Chuck doesn't enjoy playing poker. Chuck doesn't like to be confined in a small hot room with a group of men." I even held a press conference to announce my retirement. No one came. But I still gave my well-rehearsed speech: "You won't have Prophet to kick around anymore!!"

Yeah, I was born in Whittier, Nixon's hometown. And I'm lucky I'm not down there still, running a printing press for my dad's company or pushing a lawnmower in Orange County. My point is ... that I thought I had a point, and here it comes again: I guess you could say I wasn't very culturally aware when I was growing up. Then I moved around. Started traveling. Saw things. What I mean to say is that San Francisco is an education. It's an education in different kinds of people, races, colors, sexes and the like. It opened my eyes.

Don't take my word for it. If you like to hear stories, San Francisco stories, stories worth paying for even, drop in on Beth Lisick's Porchlight series. Once a month you can hear authentic monologes by card-carrying, hand-picked weirdos.

Porchlight has been going strong for years. I'm a semi-regular, when I'm in town. And I always end up floored by the characters they corral together in one place. I once suggested Happy Sanchez to Beth and Arline Klatte, her co-producer. They booked him. I was otherwise engaged that night; turns out Happy regaled the crowd with tales of his mishaps with prostitutes and his whole wrong-way-to-go-about-it tales. Arlene was taken by his "dark stories" and emailed me later asking if there was anyone else I could recommend like that. There is no one like

Happy Sanchez, I wanted to say. The best I could do was tell her that Happy was rumored to have multiple personalities. Maybe one of them was available.

Video after the jump.

[ LINK ]

Mose Tolliver, Folk Artist

"I'm not interested in art. I just want to paint my pictures." —Mose T.

I first saw his paintings at the Yard Dog Gallery in Austin sometime in the '90s. Weird stuff. Birds and snakes and fish and fruit, titles like Watermelon...My 3rd, Ray Charles Dancers, Wide Dinosaur Bird and Bow Legged Sall.

I was touring with the Silos at the time and we were hanging out with Randy, who owns and operates Yard Dog, along with his wife. He told us we should pay Mose a visit if we were passing through Birmingham. It so happens we were, and we did. We knocked on the screen door until a soft voice invited us in. Mose was kicking it on a bed, painting away. He had his walker within arm's reach. At the foot of his bed was a paint-spattered box full of his materials. We hung out for a while; he gave us a tour of his shotgun shack, then continued painting. And just kind of smiled and made us feel welcome.

When the drummer asked why he painted a certain painting over and over he justshrugged. "Uh ... People seem to like 'em." Tom Freund , who was playing bass with the Silos, held up various pieces and asked, "How much?" Mose was consistent and to the point: Each time he would say, "Fiddy."

The place was crammed to the ceiling with paintings of twisted animals, odd moose ladies and paintings of women riding bicycles. There was a painted refrigerator. A painted guitar. And other things that were painted. I guess people would drag these things in for him to paint. More than a little odd, kind of erotic even. Totally his own thing and never less than strange.

Mose painted right up until he had a stroke in 2005. He died in 2006. They had a funeral procession a mile long.

I always get a good feeling when I look at these paintings. They're the reason Stephie shuts the curtains at night. She doesn't like the light hitting the painting in the morning. Would hate to see them fade. She's good like that.

Video after the jump.

[ LINK ]

The Balboa Theater and “Dogville”

One of the perks of living in a high-rent city like San Francisco is the movies. For a while there we probably had more art houses per capita than anywhere. Like everything else, of course, that's all changed. The single-screen theater is an endangered species. (Hell, they've even closed almost every bowling alley in town.)

I loved this weird Lars von Trier film Dogville, and I'm still thinking about it. We saw it at the Balboa Theater, out by the beach, which despite the Revenge of the Multiplexes is still hanging in there. Its owner is Gary Meyer, a founder of Landmark Theatres and co-director of the Telluride Film Festival, and he's not going down without a fight.

Dogville is really a play. The set is a town made up of chalk markings on a black stage. I wouldn't call it a little movie. At three hours plus, it's kind of out there. Sometimes movies are boring. And that's all part of it. The boring part sets you up for the wild phantom left hook.

I like it when it all comes together: the song, the singer, the words, the music, the magnet and the steel, and the sound.

I like all kinds of movies. But more and more I like ones where I don't know what's going to happen next. It's that simple, I guess. I just appreciate a well-placed left hook, aimed my way, but still confined to the screen!

Why von Trier hates the U.S. so much is another issue entirely. Maybe he hasn't listened to enough Chuck Berry. Oh well.

At the end of Dogville, which takes place during the Great Depression, it makes a sharp left turn into a photo montage from Jacob Holdt's "American Pictures" over the music of Bowie's "Young Americans."

Video after the jump.

[ LINK ]

Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Live at the Star Club”

Live At The Star Club is a Jerry Lee Lewis fan's holy grail of rock 'n' roll. An amphetamine-fueled ride through the heart of the Reeperbahn with the Killer. A classic Euro-only record by a Southern loon who was known to say into the microphone to his audience, "I hope you all have heart attacks."

I have no way to know whether Jerry Lee meant those words, but listening to this record it sure sounds like he's determined to take the audience (and the band) all the way to cardiac arrest.

This is Jerry Lee Lewis at the Wigwam, bowing to Hank Williams in his seminary get-up. This is the bullet-holes-in-ceiling-for-grins, mid-'60s Holy Grail. A knockout punch on vinyl. And I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard this record: It was a party in Stockholm. Green On Red played a sweaty show earlier at The Ritz, and by the wee hours of the morning, we were raising hell somewhere up on the umpteenth floor of an apartment building god-knows-where in the Swedish capital. I was going with a girl named Sissy, and she was pals with Nick from the Nomads. We were all hanging out and drinking a certain kind of white wine that people drink that time of year in that part of the world.

The party was raging. And music was blaring out of a distorted hi-fi. Nick pulled a record out of its sleeve, turned to me, smiled and said, "This has to be the greatest party album of all time."

He put it on and cranked it up. The night popped open like a pomegranate. I was like, "That ain't no album; it's a fucking crime scene!"

I woke up the next morning hung over and determined to find my own copy of record. I eventually found a copy in France. I still have it.

Video after the jump.

[ LINK ]

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