All posts by Xpress Mag Staff

On fetishes and fantasies—working at Fantasy Makers

Photos and interview by Helen Tinna

Fantasy Makers is an East Bay adult playhouse that brings one’s fetishes and fantasies to life. Photojournalist Helen Tinna interviews Patience Morgan, a professional dominatrix at Fantasy Makers. Morgan talks about what it means to be a professional dominatrix and explains how she likes it.

 

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  • Friday, February 21, 2014, After a hard spanking session with one of her regular clients, Ruby inspects her bruised backside in the mirror. Ruby works out of the Fantasy Makers fetish playhouse as a performance artist.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, A rubber fist hides beneath a pile of "Large Dildi" in a drawer back stage at Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse based out of the Easy Bay.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, Panties and heels line the walls of the "Big Girls Closet", a collection of dress-up clothes for male clients who want to come and dress as women.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, A drawer of well organized spanking implements in the back room of Fantasy Makers features such items as a rubber chicken, a flip-flop on a stick, book spines and a heavy cutting board.
  • Monday, November 24, 2014, A Fantasy Maker fills out her client card after a session, where she gives a brief description of how things went, and perhaps some fun ideas for next time.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, Fake breast inserts line the walls of the "Big Girls Closet," a collection of dress-up clothes for male clients who want to come and dress as women.
  • Thursday, December 4, 2014, Whips, floggers, brushes, clamps and soft mitts line the inside of the prop closet in one of the Fantasy Makers session rooms.
  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Patience (Left ) smokes a cigarette and chats with one of her regulars, Bacchus, on the back deck at Fantasy Makers.
  • Thursday, December, 4 2014, Costumes hang from lockers in the dressing room of Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse based in Easy Bay.
  • Monday, November 24, 2014, Fantasy Maker, Aslan sorts through a drawer of stockings to get ready for her next scene. She was asked to dress in school girl attire, and takes her time deciding on the details of her costume.
  • Friday, February 21st 2014, Ruby braces herself against the bed as she gets spanked with a heavy rubber paddle, at the Fantasy Makers fetish playhouse where she works. This session with on of her regular clients is legal, and does not include any actual sex.
  • November 26, 2014, Mistress Patience Morgan answers the client phone at Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse in the East Bay. Clients are required to call and describe what it is that they want to do in their session prior to arriving. They are then matched with one of the women on staff, based on which ladies are working, and which would be most interested in that particular scene.
  • February 16, 2014 Ruby Morgan gets ready in the backstage bathroom at Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse based out of the East Bay. A drying rack of recently washed dildos and whips can be seen behind her. For her sessions, Ruby usually likes to wear nightgown, or some kind of slip, with thigh highs and a garter.
  • November 24, 2014, Resident den mother, Lorrett, helps a Fantasy Maker attach her garter. She is in the process of getting dressed up as a school girl. She says that although today's outfit is reletively risqué, clients will often request realistic, unflattering uniforms, complete with large grandmotherly panties. "I always put the underwear on the front" she said, explaining that this way, you don't have to take off the garter to get undressed.
  • November 24, 2014, Lorrett (right), gives a tour to Alice, a newcomer to Fantasy Makers. Here, Lorrett breaks down a chart listing the preferences of the women who work at the playhouse. On the left, a name is listed, and on top, are some of the more common scene requests. The corresponding dots that intersect the columns of names and fetish activities indicate each lady's comfort level with the each named scene theme. For instance, a red dot beneath "Adult Baby" means that this particular Fantasy Maker does not want anything to do with clients who want to dress in diapers and prevent to be infants. If however, she put a yellow dot, that would demonstrate that she might participate in a scene like this under the right circumstances. Yellow dots often come with notes specifying these conditions. The most popular condition for doing an adult baby scene? "No Poop."
  • Monday, November 24, 2014 Clem applies eyeliner before a scene in the back dressing room of Fantasy Makers, a fetish playhouse in the East Bay.
  • Friday, February 21, 2014, After binding, whipping, pinching and scratching one of her regular clients, Ruby gives him a hug, to reconnect before switching the the part of the scene where she will submit to him. Ruby works out of the Fantasy Makers fetish playhouse as a performance artist.
  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014, Ruby (left) kisses her daughter Patience a kiss at the Fantasy Makers fetish playhouse in the east bay. Patience was working on her needlepoint stitching between sessions, when her mother, who also works there, stopped in to say hello.

Sisters by blood or letters?

Written by Farnoush Amiri & Olympia Zampathas

Illustration by Lorisa Salvatin
Illustration by Lorisa Salvatin

More than sixteen thousand undergraduate women are involved in sorority hazing annually, but when asked, it is obvious that there is more percolating behind Greek letters than the thoughts of sisterhood and bonding; hazing is like the taboo topic of the college world, and SF State is not excluded from this taboo.

With the controversy surrounding the issue of sorority hazing also comes the inevitable “code of silence,” which studies have shown, 46 percent of females in Greek organizations swear by. But since 1970 there has been one hazing-related death in a U.S. college or university each year – with North American countries having the highest rate of hazing on college campuses than any other developed country in the world, with about 40 percent of the three hundred twenty-five thousand female participants aware and turning a blind-eye to the hazing in their organizations.

The institution of Greek life has been around since the country’s birth more than two hundred years ago; 1928 was the first year that SF State had its first sign of Greek life and, as of today, has thirty active chapters on campus. “Greek organizations serve to enhance the college experience at SF State. Greek life provides a supportive community in which students can explore, grow, and learn new leadership skills, academic discipline, event planning, financial proficiency, professional aptitude and social networking skill,” according to SF State’s definition.

The most common methods of hazing reported are excessive alcohol consumption, public humiliation and isolation, sleep deprivation and numerous forms of sexual and lewd acts, often involving the opposite sex.

“Sometimes, something as simple as making a member wear a pin or participate in a scavenger hunt can be considered hazing,” shares Brian Stuart, associate dean of students at SF State.

Nine out of ten victims are often unaware of the things they are being subjected to can be considered a form of hazing.

“I remember hearing from someone who’d rushed a local that her pledge class had to carry heavy shampoo bottles around because they were ‘flaky,’” says Kate Fraser of the SF State chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma.

After varsity athletes, sororities make up 73 percent of those subjected to hazing in universities. In 25 percent of all hazing activities, students have said that both faculty, advisors, and alumni have been present or aware of the rituals.

“I am not aware of any reports or concerns of hazing within [SF State] sororities within the past four years,” says Dean of Students at SF State, Mary Ann Begley. “But I also don’t think either one of us have our heads in the sand that things probably do happen and are not reported.”

About 37 percent of females in sororities do not tell anyone about what they are being subject to in the fear of getting their fellow sisters and chapter advisors in trouble. And 46 percent of them believe that the most important thing is to keep the code of silence.

Most sororities, both national and local, have strict and transparent no-tolerance policies on hazing rituals but even with those restrictions national headlines about the cases that are reported seem to be growing.

“I feel like it still happens because [Greek organizations] are set into traditions that need to be gotten rid of. I wish I could say hazing never happens but without people coming forward you never know,” says Devika Sonmati Kumarie Botejue of Phi Sigma Sigma.

In a study, girls that took part in a sorority are more likely to have body image issues and dysfunctional eating behaviors than their peers. They were also found to be more likely to abuse prescription medication than students who are not involved in Greek life due to the high standards of appearance placed on them.

When asked why they joined a sorority or fraternity, 65 percent of Greek life members believe that the primary goal of the hazing rituals are to bond the members, according to a study done by InsideHazing.com. That may be the intention of all, certainly most, chapters of Greek life, but that is not always the result. The tradition of having an initiation process to join these clubs is something that could be fun and games, but, in other cases, can cause psychological and physical harm.

Of the fifty states in the U.S., forty-four of them have anti-hazing laws after detrimental events in their universities Greek life occurred or became national news. Some universities have banished and derecognized chapters that have abused their power through hazing. SF State disbanded its chapter of Lambda Phi Epsilon in June 2013 after Peter Tran, an eighteen-year-old member was killed after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol (a form of hazing) at a chapter party.

In October 2014, Dartmouth College’s newspaper published a front-page story titled “Abolish the Greek System” and stated, “No, Greek Life is not the root of all the College’s problems or of broader societal ills. But as a system, it amplifies student’s worst behavior. It facilitates binge drinking and sexual assault. It perpetuates unequal, gendered power dynamics and institutionalizes arbitrary exclusivity. It divides students – the system as a whole separates freshmen from upperclass, men from women. Membership draws lines among friends.”

Another statistic is of members of Greek life who have had positive and empowering experiences through their organization.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand what we stand for and why we are in a sorority,” explains Kumarie Botejue. “A lot of people tell me that I don’t seem like I should be in a sorority because I like to study and don’t go to parties all the time. They think that sorority girls are like in the movies, that we party all the time and don’t go to classes. It’s a really big misconception because in [my] sorority education comes first.”

So, if we have a large group of young adults wanting to find a way to bond with others and are willing to endure whatever it may take to create these bonds, it is easy to see that this leads to problems.

“Rushing an organization is all in good fun. If it stops being fun, something is going wrong. If the hazing is stemming from the execuive board of the organization, it should be reported. We all benefit from keeping each other safe,” says Natalie Weizman of Lambda Chi Mu.

So why does it still happen? People all seem to agree that it is awful, outdated, and illegal and can usually identify the more extreme versions of the “tradition,” but the trend stuck – when sororities on campus and those affiliated with Greek life were asked if they had any personal experiences with hazing, responses ceased.

Stories of girls pledging sororities on campus as extreme as being forced to strip, sit on tables while naked, and have members of their brother fraternity write what they believes is wrong with the girls’ bodies on their skin with markers may haunt some. It is a problem that is not being discussed and flies just under the radar enough that no one pays enough attention to it until something goes wrong.

All it takes is one voice, one person to speak up. If someone who knows this is happening steps forward, maybe the reality of what hazing really is beyond tradition, the effects of what it can do to participants would be brought to light, and lives might actually be saved in more ways than one.

There are many resources on campus available to students. If you or someone you know has had experiences with hazing, counseling and services are held in the Student Services building, the Safe Place, and the Women’s Center.

If you have an experience or story that you would like to share with Xpress and get out to a larger audience, feel free to email us at xpressmagsfsu@gmail.com.

 

One in a Million: A day in the life of student activist, Brittany Moore

Brittany Moore (left) joins thousands of protestors out front of the City Hall at the end of the Millions March in San Francisco on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (Sara Gobets/Xpress Magazine)
Brittany Moore (left) joins thousands of protestors out front of the City Hall at the end of the Millions March in San Francisco on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (Sara Gobets/Xpress Magazine)

Words and Photos by Sara Gobets

While many students are locking themselves in their rooms or living in the library until finals are over, SF State student Brittany Moore is using study breaks to take to the street and continue her work as a student activist. Moore currently holds a 4.0 GPA in her five courses and hopes to finish the semester strong, but that doesn’t mean shirking her responsibilities as founder of the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition on campus or diminishing her active dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement. Scroll through the photos and take a walk in her shoes as a student activist attending in the Millions March in San Francisco.

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  • SF State student activist and founder of the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition Brittany Moore pours over her notes in her apartment on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. She currently holds a 4.0 GPA in her five courses and hopes to finish the semester strong.
  • Moore texts other members of the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition to coordinate a meeting place on the way to the Millions March in San Francisco, Saturday Dec. 13, 2014.
  • Moore and other SF State students spot more members of the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition in the crowd as the Millions March protestors make their way down Market Street.
  • SF State student Imani Davis (right) picks out a poster from a stack made by the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition during the Millions March in San Francisco.
  • Moore starts a chant while marching down Market Street during the Millions March.
  • Moore (left) joins thousands of protestors out front of the City Hall at the end of the Millions March.
  • Moore raises her fist in solidarity out front of City Hall.
  • Moore hands out Black and Brown Liberation Coalition pamphlets in front of City Hall.
  • Moore offers cuties to fellow protestors out front of the Civic Center after the Millions March.
  • Moore rolls up her poster at the end of the Millions March.
  • Moore takes BART with other protestors in search of food after the the march.
  • Moore and other protestors gather to eat, drink, and unwind at Cava 22 restaurant in the Mission.
  • (From left to right) Yesenia Mendez, Yuri Clark, Mekdes Clark, and Brittany Moore watch footage protestors outside of a Bart Station.
  • Yuri Clark (left) and Moore walk home after a long day of protesting.
  • Back at her apartment, Moore rubs her tired eyes while checking the Black and Brown Liberation Coalition Facebook.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival 2014 Recap

Yo La Tengo performs at the Arrow stage at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Photo under  Creative Commons by btwashburn
Yo La Tengo performs at the Arrow stage at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.
Photo under Creative Commons by btwashburn

Festival Review: Friday Recap

By Airha Dominguez

With temperatures in the nineties, festival-goers walk barefoot on the grass, refill their bottled waters, and reapply sunscreen after each performance. Thousands have gathered at Golden Gate Park for day one of the fourteenth annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival started back in 2001, when founder Herman Warren, worked with other San Francisco organizers to create a festival that celebrated music. Originally, the festival was one day, one stage, and twelve performances. Now, the festival is a three-day long event, with seven stages and 120 performances.  This year’s performers include popular headliners like Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, Social Distortion, and Ryan Adams.

Yo La Tengo, an indie rock band from New Jersey, was one of many artists who performed Friday night at the Arrow Stage. Ira Kaplan, the vocalist and guitarist of the band, played his electric guitar passionately, closing his eyes and focusing on the music while fans danced. 

Alternative country star, Ryan Adams, performed with a more romantic tone at the Banjo Stage. Adams performed, “Come Pick Me Up,” the melodramatic ballad from his debut solo album, Heartbreaker.

Friday’s festival gathered a diverse audience, from college students to families with their kids.

Sofia Mehta, a country music lover, made her own schedule of the bands she wanted to see, and kept the sheet of paper folded in her wallet.

“My friends like different music, but everyone comes to see different musicians,” she said. “I’m here to see John Prine who is a legend of the country music.”

Jennifer Adrian, a San Francisco resident, said this was her first time attending this event. She waited to see Ryan Adams perform.

“It’s crowded, but everyone is very respectful,” she says.

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The crowd during Built to Spill’s performance at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Saturday October 4, 2014. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Festival Review: Overall Recap

By Calla Camero

Fans made the most of San Francisco’s heat this past weekend by attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park. Temperatures reached a record high on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the heatwave and festival were in sync perfectly with one another to bring the city’s residents together.

The lineup this year did not disappoint as classic bands like Social Distortion, Poor Man’s Whiskey, The Aquabats!, Built to Spill, Whograss, Deltron 3030 with the 3030 Orchestra and more, joined one another to produce not just bluegrass-folk-dancing music, but also headbangers and rock anthems alike. The fourteenth annual music festival has certainly extended its genres beyond its early bands of “strictly” folk and bluegrass.

Doug Martsch (guitar) and Steve Gere (drums), of band Built to Spill, perform at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Saturday October 4, 2014. ( Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)
Doug Martsch (guitar) and Steve Gere (drums), of band Built to Spill, perform at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Saturday October 4, 2014. ( Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)

The change in music did not seem to bother the audience. According to promoters, the festival drew an estimated crowd of 750,000 people joining in on some free music, free sunbathing, and extremely expensive food. Nevertheless, people of all ages showed up. The audience included a mix people, from an older crowd and college students, to families with moms and dads jamming together with their children, many of which couldn’t sit still due to all the commotion. It seemed as though the whole city was there for a good three days together.

Attendees dressed accordingly for the classic San Francisco event despite the extreme heatwave. A woman was seen wearing ram horns whilst holding a wine cooler and jamming out to Built to Spill. A man in a sequence and rainbow onesie, all pulled together with a silver cane made an appearance at the (very fitting) Gold Stage on Saturday afternoon. There were tons of aloha shirts, flower headbands and flower crowns, since this is San Francisco after all.

Overall, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass weekend had a great turnout, despite the expensive food, blistering heat, and the Giants game to distract from bringing people together and remembering what the festival really represents. Good music and good people.

Remembering Joan Rivers, A Comic Legend

Joan Rivers at Michael Musto's 25th Anniversary Party. Creative Commonsphoto by David Shankbone
Joan Rivers at Michael Musto’s 25th Anniversary Party. Creative Commons photo by David Shankbone

Written by Tami Benedict 

Legendary comedian Joan Rivers died in a New York hospital Thursday, a week after going into cardiac arrest during a medical procedure.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers,” Melissa Rivers said in a statement today. “She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother.”

Rivers, 81, was put on life support at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai hospital after she stopped breathing during a minor voluntary surgery at Yorkville Endoscopy. The clinic is now being investigated by the New York State Health Department.

The E! “Fashion Police” host was well known for her foul mouth and politically incorrect statements. She was not afraid to push buttons with her raunchy style of comedy. She was both scandalous and charming.

Her love for couture helped build her now famous catchphrase, “Who are you wearing?” A lifelong fashionista, she began doing red carpet coverage in the mid-1990s.

As harsh as Rivers could be, she made it clear that at times, it is ok to laugh at yourself, even telling her grandson to call her “Nana New Face.”

Rivers’ death was a shock to the nation, especially after seeing her at the MTV Movie Awards and the Emmys.

Although people may not have agreed with Rivers’ comedic style, I believe that she was still respected in the business. Rivers showed us that standing up for what we believe in was the right thing to do, regardless of how bad it may sound.

A Sunday service is set for Temple Emanu-El near Rivers’ East Side apartment, although it was unclear if the public would be invited.

Concert Review: Ed Sheeran

  • Ed Sheeran performed Tuesday August 26 at the SAP Center in San Jose. Brenna Cruz, Photographer/ Special to XPress
  • Rudimental’s trumpet player, Mark Crown, hypes up the crowd near the end of their performance. Brenna Cruz, Photographer/ Special to XPress
  • Ed Sheeran explaining the story behind one of his songs. Brenna Cruz, Photographer/ Special to XPress

Written by Olympia Zampathas

Photos by Brenna Cruz

 

For a Tuesday evening concert and over an hour and a half before the opening act is scheduled to begin, lines on multiple floors wrapping around the SAP Center arena in San Jose are jam-packed with excited fans, mothers, and boyfriends waiting to be let inside to see the British musician that is Ed Sheeran.

Sheeran, whose new album “X” has been topping the charts in the United Kingdom and United States, and who won a VMA for Best Male Video for his song “Sing” last week, played to thousands Tuesday, August 26. Inside, the excited crowded were funneled into various sections of the performance center as they awaited the opening act, Rudimental.

While not a big name in the United States, the band brings the energy and enthusiasm characteristic of major rockstars with high fives and grooving to their own music. The band, who won both the Brit Award and Mobo Award for best album in 2013, features two lead vocalists, a trumpet player, killer drummer, and guitar player, with unique and energetic style that flavored their set.

The band exits the stage with an emotional sing-a-long, engaging band and audience alike and paving the way for the main act. As a silhouette emerges from the back center stage, the crowd explodes into a screaming fest and my eardrums are shot.

Despite the crowd flocking to see him, and his recent VMA win, Sheeran is nothing but humble, praising his opening act and describing it as an honor to follow them.

As his performance begins, the crowd surges forward to pack the standing room-only portion of the arena.

Save for the guitar hung on his shoulder, a microphone and Looper pedal front and center, Ed stands alone on the stage. He starts out with an upbeat melody on his guitar and lets the instrument fall to his side, but the sound continues from the Looper. He begins to belt out “I’m a Mess” off of his most recent album, “X,” the crowd echoing him, word for word.

His dynamic performance a mix of live-recorded vocals and guitar, rapping, bits of beat-boxing, taking pictures of the audience with his phone and a bulky, cartoon-esque Polaroid-like camera he purchased in Japan, and the fast paced singing he is known for continues for the next hour and a half. The musician/songwriter plays “I See Fire,” featured in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” as fiery visuals are shown behind him before he abruptly exits the stage at the end of his set.

Desperate for more, fans chant, scream, and clap until he reappears on the stage for a 15-minute rendition of “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.” He performs a four-song long encore, ending with a radio-favorite, “Sing.” He leaves audience members with the message to never stop singing, wherever they are, wherever they go. As people filter out of the arena, a wave of appreciation for the talent I witnessed comes over me and I head to the car completely content, happy, and a little hoarse.

Summer Mixtape: New Songs Each Week!

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Photo by Nadine Quitania

Summer is officially here, so what better way to celebrate than with some new tunes? We’ve compiled for your listening pleasure, a rad playlist to kick off the summer. We’ll post a Soundcloud playlist each and every week with our favorite tracks to share with you and your friends. This week’s playlist features over 35 tracks from Little Dragon, Ta-ku, IAMNOBODI, and many more. So here’s to long road trips, afternoons at the beach, barbecues, and late nights with friends. Listen here, and make sure to follow us on Soundcloud and keep an eye out for what else we have in store.

Home

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Written and filmed by Andrew Cullen
Photos by Jessica Christian

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Stand at the end of Fourteenth Street in West Oakland. This neighborhood has seen the worst of Bay Area gentrification, and its reflection is in the glass that covers the sidewalks, flowing down into gutters, stretching into the distance. It sticks to the walls of buildings and the fronts of homes, where everything as tall as the average person is covered with decades of graffiti frescoes.

A leather recliner, like the one your grandfather used to sit in, is now tipped over on to the asphalt, lacerated from end to end, hemorrhaging foam into the storm drain.

There are no people here. There are signs of their presence, though there are merely only clues as to where they may have gone, yet the only sound is the static of the constant humming vibration of traffic from the overpass overhead.

Track homes are huddled, wall-to-wall, all the way down the street, only broken by a chain link fence surrounding a dirt lot where one of those houses burned to ground so many years ago.

But this lot is not vacant.

Tucked behind the trees lies a treasure. Shrouded in shrubbery sits a shack, only slightly smaller than a garden shed, fitted with a loft, a fire burning stove, a desk and an old grand piano.

Built from the ground up, Matt Christensen gathered as much materials as he could from the local dump, where he worked, and eventually piled up enough to begin building himself a home.

“I moved back here, and pitched a tent, and started collecting materials,” he says. “I worked in the dump at the time, so it was pretty easy to get building materials.”

Construction of the shack is an ongoing project, and now that Jake Wobig, Matt’s husband, moved in, the project is beginning to expand. They hope that soon, they will be able to install solar panels for electricity and piping for running water.

The San Francisco Bay Area is undergoing rapid changes in the wake of what some are calling the second “dot-com” boom. The rise of tech companies and their mass exodus from Silicon Valley to San Francisco is propelling the Northern California economy in ways that are only comparable to New York City at the dawn of the industrial age.

Of course, our golden city is less than fifty square miles, so when we see a great influx of residents, we also see the San Franciscan middle class begin to dwindle. While the lower class, is literally being pressure washed off of the sidewalks, and pushed back into the shadows to paint a picturesque portrait for app developers, and startup entrepreneurs.

For many, surviving in the Bay Area means resulting to drastic measures. Jake and Matt have found a way to dodge the fist of gentrification by building their home from what others saw as trash, in a vacant lot in West Oakland.

Historically, San Francisco has served as Mecca for a collection of people from no where. San Francisco is built to sustain the lonely; packed to the brim with dark alley pubs, SROs and one bedroom apartments.

And yet, for those who fall on the ends of humanity’s bell curve; those who cannot be so tightly fit into society’s little box of “normal,” San Francisco shines as a beacon of hope in the fog, a city wise beyond its years, nurturing the broken and the lost.

San Francisco is of course famous for being one of the most important LGBTQ rights hubs, and because of that, the city’s widespread greeting arms attract many young LGBTQ kids who have been shunned out of their homes in middle America.

Unfortunately, San Francisco isn’t the place it used to be, and many LGBTQ kids who make the pilgrimage here in the hopes of finding a LGBTQ community with open doors wind up with a reality check that knocks them into homelessness, addiction, or sexually transmitted disease.

According to the San Francisco Department of Human Services, as many as twenty-nine percent of San Francisco’s entire homeless population is LGBTQ.

Before meeting Matt and moving into their cozy West Oakland shack, Jake’s life almost became one for the statisticians.

“High School wasn’t the greatest,” Jake says, sitting in the office of the French café he now helps manage. “It made me like, mentally fucking crazy.”

He is not alone, but often living as a gay man in Idaho, it felt that way. He remembered the feeling he had when Idaho lawmakers pushed for a bill that would legally protect police officers, firefighters, doctors, teachers, and nurses from providing any service to gay men and women, based on their religious beliefs. “Shit like that” he says, “it impacted me a lot.”

“I was more than out,” Jake says, reminiscent of his younger years. “I showed no fucking mercy. The hatred people would show towards me would just fuel me.”

His memories of his adolescence are ones that one may hear echoed on the nightly news. He remembered being bullied, “getting called names, getting shoved around” for the clothes he wore.

Jake always chose to bite back. “I would just make it even more extreme,” he says. “In ninth grade it got to the point where I would just wear full on drag makeup. I would do it on the bus. I had this scarf that I would pull out and pull down as a skirt. I would always just piss people off.”

“I was just an obnoxious, in-your-face kid; I hated everything around me,” he says. “It was always just one extreme after another. I’m a lot more mellow now though.”

It was after high school, when he got a solid friend base, that things weren’t as bad, he says. “But Idaho still just drove me insane. I couldn’t stand it there.”

After high school, Jake got a job as a custodian in a hospital kitchen. “It seriously sucked,” he said. “I was living paycheck to paycheck, in a city I grew up in my entire life, for the most part, that I really hated.”

With that thought in his head and three hundred dollars in his pocket, Jake hopped on a Greyhound bus, and headed west. “I decided there was nothing really to lose if I left,” he said. “And I have not gone back.”

After bouncing around with a few friends in Portland, Jake grabbed the last twenty dollars he had to his name and jumped another bus to San Francisco.

He came to San Francisco with no place to stay, no job and no flowers in his hair; yet he fought to make it work. He had one friend in the city who let him stay at her Inner Richmond house, but it was not a free ride.

“I had to find a way to come up with three-hundred and fifty bucks and find a job for an apartment,” Jake says. “It was all stressful for a minute, but I met some people, and did some porn to get by.”

San Francisco is one of the few cities in which a young man can “get by,” legally, using only sex. Later that year, Jake appeared in a “sex theatre” performance at the Folsom Street Fair, where Cum & Glitter hosted a fetish themed play.

“I happened to be in the incest act, where I had an older brother,” he said. Later, the director of the show gave Jake a room in his apartment in the Richmond District. “Porn and sex work pays a lot of money and thats how I was able to pull that off,” Jake said.

Shortly after moving in with his new roommate, Jake was finally introduced to someone who would make his stay in San Francisco more permanent.

Matthew Espinosa met Jake at Jake’s Richmond apartment and based on nothing but “faith and trust” offered Jake a job at an unsuspecting establishment: a coffee shop.

According to Jake, Espinosa’s boss even told him “it’s your ass if it doesn’t work out”.

“That was great,” Jake says. “I felt really grateful for that.” Without Espinosa’s generosity, things could be very different for Jake in San Francisco. Unfortunately Espinosa moved to Southern California shortly after, where he committed suicide in February.

A mutual friend from Jake’s time in Portland suggested that he and Matt Christensen meet, since they both lived in the Bay Area.

They did, and after a short time, they moved in together; into Matt’s shack in West Oakland.

Although their humble abode is expanding, there is still no certainty of how long the honeymoon will last. According to Matt, the rightful owners of the lot have a defunct address and a disconnected phone, making their return unlikely, but in the realm of possibility.

“I started looking into the legal parts of it, and how we would eventually be able to claim it,” Matt said. “I looked into how adverse possession works, and its basically just a fancy word for squatters rights.”

The shack is built primarily from wood collected from Matt’s old job at the dump. The only portion of the house that was purchased, was some roof insulation and a ceiling pipe for the chimney they have connected to a small iron fireplace in their living room, which all together cost them about three hundred dollars.

Neither Matt, nor Jake knew anything about architecture or carpentry before building the shack, but rented books from the local library to teach themselves.

In the future, they hope to expand the compound by adding a second shack, and a compost outhouse, which “sounds gross, but is actually great for gardening,” according to Matt.

In their front yard, they have two planter boxes which they have grown edible vegetables in, alongside a synthetic beehive. “It’d be nice to have something other than microwave pizza… not that microwave pizza is bad.” Matt said.

They have dabbled with the idea of installing solar panels to generate electricity, but are weary because they are both away from home most of the day, and fear that they may get stolen.

The house itself is built around Matt’s old grand piano, which he claims was  “actually built into the plan.”

Matt collected as many items from the dump as he found interesting and brought them home. If the boys did not find a use for it, it usually was simply nailed to the wall and used for decoration. The house is littered with family pictures from people they have never met, fragments of the past lives of those who never were.

The “off-the-grid” nature of their cottage may seem extreme, or weird, but it is exactly that weirdness that makes it their home.

Now, stand back at the end of 14th Street. Look past the flowing stream of broken windshields and see through the dull vibration of broken dreams. Imagine the times when one could see children sliding in the park, throwing footballs in the street, and families having barbecues on their driveways. Imagine a time when the homes on the street bore no graffiti on their walls and when a kid could lay on the grass and imagine pictures in the clouds.

Do your best to see this while you can, because soon enough, even the shadows of neighborhoods like this will soon be bought out and replaced with parking spaces, and temp positions and the quintessential Bay Area feeling may be gone.

So, whether you are here to stay, or just passing through, look closely at the faces of the destitute begging for change, listen hard to the bus drivers who carry a bus packed with broken hymns, and as you walk through the streets remember to breathe it in, let it become part of you. Remember each star in the sky, hanging heavy above us all and know that although like the stars, we may seem to drift through the darkness alone, we all still have a home.

Flask Mob

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  • A photographer takes a photo downtown on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. The group was part of Flaskmob, a flashmob of photographers who meet monthly to take photos and network together. Photo by Ryan Leibrich / Xpress
    A photographer takes a photo downtown on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. The group was part of Flaskmob, a flashmob of photographers who meet monthly to take photos and network together. Photo by Ryan Leibrich / Xpress
  • Kyle Thomasson plays the guitar while others take photos on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. The group was part of Flaskmob, a flashmob of photographers who meet monthly to take photos and network together. Photo by Ryan Leibrich / Xpress
    Kyle Thomasson plays the guitar while others take photos on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. The group was part of Flaskmob, a flashmob of photographers who meet monthly to take photos and network together. Photo by Ryan Leibrich / Xpress

Written by Marianna Barrera
Photos By Ryan Lebrich

As soon as the sun sets, the mob slowly starts to gather between Sansome and Commercial Streets. Soon hundreds of people are gathered on that same corner being loud, drinking, and drawing attention to themselves.
“Flask Mob! Flask Mob!” chants everyone as soon as founders Evan Thompson and Sabina Farrugia show up and begin to lead the way. Once at their first stop, everybody poses for a group picture and smoke bombs are distributed. In no time, the air is filled with smoke and the flash of cameras is all around.
Filling the streets by the hundreds, they drink, smoke, laugh, and photograph anything around them. They are a family; they are Flask Mob—some of the Bay Area’s most creative minds gathered and ready to take over the streets of San Francisco.
Flask Mob started as an idea after Thompson’s friends and online followers constantly asked to go shoot with him. Thompson is known for his truly invigorating pictures of the San Francisco skylines, not fearing boundaries and always going above and beyond to capture the perfect shot.
“There’s always new spots to find, and there’s always new buildings,” says Thompson, “so once we found a name and a reason to meet up, that’s how it organically started.”
The idea behind Flask Mob was to create an event where people with an interest in photography could gather and learn to take pictures in places where Thompson usually does, all while having fun and drinking.
“We’re creative people,” says Farrugia, “So we wanted a forum for people to hang out, chill and network, and do stuff that we like to do.”
The catchy name was created by Farrugia, taking the idea of flash mobs and making it their own.
“Flash mobs meet and dance at a random location. Flask Mob would meet and drink at a random location,” says Thompson.
One of the main group objectives is for people to network with each other, in a more nontraditional way.
“We want it to be fun, because I have to do networking stuff all the time, and a lot of it is stuck up, wine, suits—not fun,” says Farrugia, “creative people typically aren’t’ the people who want to be in suits with wine discussing what they can work on together.”
Flask Mob was the answer, it would be a networking event in which people could still have fun and not have to worry about traditional networking stuff.
“So we started telling people to pack a flask, pack a camera and show up,” says Farrugia.
The first meetup took place last November with about seventy people. Since then, word of the mob has been spreading quickly through social media, increasing the number of attendees by the hundreds.
“Everyone was so about it from the get go,” says Faruggia, “It became a lot bigger than we had planned. “
The mob now has almost four thousand followers on Instagram, and more than five hundred email sign-ups for their upcoming website.
Throughout the night, the streets and alleys of San Francisco are illuminated by flares, spinning steel wool, and everyone’s excitement. Bystanders were confused, their cars slowing as they tried to figure out who this group of people was. Employees would come out and ask who they were as the mob passed by their business.
The group made five stops in their route. Leaders of the mob tried to control the crowd by separating and communicating with each other via walkie-talkies.
One of the bigger problems the mob has had to deal with, is the constant tagging.
“It got so out of hand with the tagging that we actually pulled the plug. We said it’s done you guys,” says Farrugia about one of their previous meets.
“We do encourage expressing yourself, but there are ways to do it,” said Farrugia, “A lot of our friends are graffiti artists, and I have tagged back in the day, but that just has to be separate from what were doing, mainly because we can shut down really quickly.”
Flask Mob is trying to keep under the radar as much as they can, thus staying out of trouble is a big concern. John Kim, a former social media follower of Thompson was taken in after the first meetup, and is part of crowd control for the mob.
“The crowd started to get bigger, and I kind of tried to control it on my own,” says Kim. “It’s hard, but I’ll try to start at one section and try to keep them in line, and we communicate with walkie-talkies too, because nobody answers their phones.”
Kylle Thomasson walked with his guitar and was singing with others throughout the night. The crowd cheered for him and sang along, bringing even more enthusiasm to the already rowdy group. At multiple points, he provided music for a free style rap performed by two other attendees.
“I feel like I’m family. It’s like I came here and was accepted, you feel me?” says one of the freestyle rappers and first time attendees, Michael “Burnt Toast” Young. “ It wasn’t like, ‘Oh he’s an outsider’ I felt welcome here.”
The night continues until past midnight, the crowd’s enthusiasm going strong and by the end of the night, after a few security guards kicked everyone out of the Yerba Buena gardens, the mob slowly started dispersing.
Flask Mob events are held once a month, and every other month such as last month, instead of walking the streets, they will gather at a spot to network and drink with each other.
“Flask Mob, as it grows, it’s a learning experience in how we coordinate the large amounts of people,” said Thompson.
Thompson felt as if he was not able to communicate with everyone by just doing the walking Flask Mob. His goal for the alternate meet ups is to be able to know everyone in the group, and have a chance for everybody be able to talk to each other as well.
“I like how we’re meeting all these new people and learning from each other,” said Andre Soto at his first Flask Mob event, “We get to make a connection with everyone, and it’s a way of connecting with your community. It’s perfect.”
For now, the renegade group is staying in San Francisco, but Thompson is already working on expanding the mob and, by the end of the year, plans to take over 3 more cities.
Their next stop: Los Angeles.

University Design:School Pride and Fashion Collide

  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __ cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __ cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __ cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __ cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __ cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __ cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __ cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __  cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12.  The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Senior Apparel Design and Merchandising student __ cuts sews reuses SF State plastic street banners to construct universal unisex outfits in Burk Hall room 410, Wed. Mar. 12. The outfits will be showcased in a SF State fashion show in May. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

Written by Melissa Landeros
Photos by Tony Santos

Thick, coarse, dirty, unbearable to get around—SF State design students could not help but complain about having to work with such a difficult material for clothing. The royal purple and gold SF State banners that span all around campus were taken down from their poles and placed in the hands of the design students from the Apparel Design and Merchandising department (ADM). The students were given a task that would challenge their design skills. They were to create garments for Runway 2014: Provoke, an annual fashion show that the Fashion Network Association, a student-run organization, helps produce.

“We saw the material and were like what are we going to do with this,” says Soraya Davallou a design student. Aside from the material being an unknown fiber there were restrictions that accompanied the design process. The concept of “Universal Design” was set in place, meaning the construction of the garments needed to be unisex, and wearable for any shape or size.

The students’ work-space was comprised of long tables, sewing machines, and dress forms. The student designers scrambled to pin, sew, steam, and put together their purple and gold garments.

Nevertheless, the ADM students sought out this challenge in full force. Some manipulated the banners into becoming a softer material to work with by ironing it. Others dealt with broken sewing machine needles as well as edges that were rough and left unfinished.

“I really wanted the SF State logo to stand out in order to show school pride,” says Helen Nguyen. The designer and her partner did not like the restrictions of the designs but overcame them by adding adjustable straps to the garment in order to fit it in the one-size-fits-all spectrum.

While some students honed in on school pride, others focused on creating garments that would be considered unisex. Panphila Tan and her partner did just that by constructing a vest and a quilt that was adjustable with Velcro.

After struggling with such difficult material the design students executed seven garments that range from a modern kimono, a zoot suit and, a motorcycle inspired jacket and pant. From the workroom to the runway, the looks will be showcased at the San Francisco Design Center May 1st.

Against the Grain

Speakeasy Ales and Lagers Brewery, located at 1195 Evans Avenue in the Bayview District. Apr. 6. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
Speakeasy Ales and Lagers Brewery, located at 1195 Evans Avenue in the Bayview District. Apr. 6. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

Written by Katie Mullen
Photo by Tony Santos

It’s a beautiful Saturday in San Francisco. The sun has come out to play and so have you. You and a group of friends decide that the only thing to compliment the beautiful day at hand is a well-crafted beer. You guys are in luck, you live in a city dotted with some of the finest micro-breweries out there.
Beer has quickly gained popularity in the past seven to ten. More people are learning about it, attempting to make it, and simply drinking more of it. Home brewing was not made legal in the United States until 1978. This is not to say that home brewed beers were a pigment of the imagination though, they were just a well-kept secret.
Now, it seems that every other person you talk to will tell you how they are attempting to brew at home or that on of their friends are. It use to be taboo for girls to drink beer, it was a drink for manly men. It was the alcohol of football games and arm wrestling tournaments, and besides it had too many calories for girls to drink it, right? Well not anymore.
Beer has become a coveted and respected drink. Its no longer just the drink of beer pong and beer bongs. It is a hand-crafted alcohol that people smell before tasting to get a whiff of the hops in it, they sip it and attempt to decipher hints of coffee or hazelnut, perhaps there is a hint of fruitiness or citrus.
Perhaps the most trending type of beer is the infamous IPA, short for India pale ale. You may have head people say, “oh, its so hoppy, I love it!” and may of you may have shook your head agreeing but really had no idea what on earth they were referring to. Well let me break it down for you. Hops are one of the few main ingredients found in all beers. It is simply the flower of a hop plant, which is part of the hemp family. It gives off a bitter taste, which is what many IPA lovers search for. Shockingly, there are over three hundred different types of hops grown anywhere from Germany to California and Washington.
Hops were originally used to balance the beer. Grains that are used in beers are extremely sweet and sugary. So, by adding hops and bitterness, brewers were able to create more of a balanced flavor that was less overwhelming for the drinker. The IPA took that a step further to overpower a beer with the hops.
Here is some information about IPAs to impress your friends with. India pale ales came into existence around the 18th century. A man named George Hodgson would ship beer, his pale ales, from England into India. Because the voyage was long and hops acts as a natural preservative, he would add extra hops in order to help the beer stay fresh. The taste because increasingly demanded and born from the pale ale came India pale ale we know and love today.
Currently, the West Coast IPA has become a new way to brew using the process of dry hopping. Which in short gives you the aroma and flavor of the different hops creating different tastes in beer. This is why no two IPAs will taste the same. And our recommendation would be to try them all!
San Francisco is proud to be the home of Anchor Steam Brewery but it is also home to many other amazing breweries that have somehow remained under the radar for many years. With beer now coming into the social scene, they are gaining popularity and foot traffic but they are still considered local gems.
Some of these breweries are Cellarmaker Brewing Company of Howard St., ThirstyBear Brewing company in the Financial District, and a Giants fan’s home away from home: 21st Amendment. But at the top of the local beer guru’s list would have to be Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, Triple VooDoo Brewery, and Southern Pacific Brewing.
Speakeasy is a locally brewed and mostly locally sold beer. It specialized in Ales and Lagers. Ale beers are brewed from malted barley and yeast. It is fermented very fast, which gives it a fuller taste and is often times fruity. These also contain hops to balance the malt. Lagers ferment much more slowly than ales. They are brewed with bottom fermenting yeast then are stored at cool temperatures to mature their taste. The hops are much easier to taste in a lager than in an ale.
Speakeasy is a fun place to spend a day. Sampling beers and talking to the servers and bartenders that could talk to you for days about the beers they currently have and beers they use to carry. “I love going to Speakeasy not only because I love their beer but because I always seem to learn something about beer whether it be about how it is made, how it is processed, or what is in it,” says Michael Herndon, a previous SF State student now living in the city. If you are interested in the process of how ales and lagers are brewed, the tour would be the place for you to go. But, take a pen and a notepad because brewing is a long and complicated process. Luck for us, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers has it down to a science, literally.
Next on the list would be Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room. If the name alone isn’t enough to draw you in there, you are in luck because I have more information for you. Berkley student and beer enthusiast, Derek Campbell says, “Every time I come into the city, I make it a priority to come into Voodoo. I hate to be corny but I really do think they cast a spell on me or put a potion in their brews or something.”
What is cool about Triple Voodoo is that you can have food from local restaurants delivered to you as you are sitting and enjoying a nice, cold, well-crafted beer. The brewery has sixteen beers on tap that rotate, meaning that they are not all available year round. This is kind of fun because if you are use to drinking a beer but it is not on tap when you go in, you are forced to step outside the box.
And finally, probably the least known and talked about brewery would be Southern Pacific Brewery. This brewery is awesome because it is not what you are expecting when you see the building. It also has some tasty food to compliment the beers they have on tap. One woman’s favorite is the Porter, it is on tap and when that tap runs out, it is gone for a while. “I literally cried one time when I came in here and the Porter tap was gone,” says Raimi Mitchell-Young who lives in the city. “The thought of it was the only thing that got me through my day, it is the best beer I have yet to find in the city, and it was gone!” She also went on to say that the black bean burger and sage fries are to die for.
These breweries only scratch the surface of what San Francisco has to offer the beer obsessed individuals. But to get into it would take hours to read through. The best advice is to start at a microbrewery, spark up a conversation with a bartender or fellow beer drinker, and ask them what other breweries they enjoy. Then the fun part comes, go explore them! There are so many beers out there that it can be daunting, but the more you try, the more you will know and the more you can narrow the search for your personal perfect beer. Beware of the sours though, rumor has it that they grow on you if you can drink a full glass in one sitting, emphasis on the “if”… Now go forth and taste!