Category Archives: City

Quest for Three: Giants fall to the Nationals

The Willie Mays statue at AT&T Park. Photo under elcapitan79
The Willie Mays statue at AT&T Park. Photo under elcapitan79

The Giants were home today for Game 3 of the NLDS against the Nationals and one major mistake cost them a win . The team lost 1-4 against the Nationals and are currently in the lead by taking the NLDS 2-1.

Madison Bumgarner was on the mound and pitched a pretty good game until the seventh inning. Bumgarner threw a sacrifice ball to Pablo Sandoval, trying to get the force out at third, but instead over throwing the ball in the Giants’ bullpen and costing the Giants two runs. Bumgarner pitched seven innings, giving up three runs. Jean Machi replaced Bumgarner and pitched nearly perfectly except for giving up a home run to Bryce Harper in the ninth.

Nationals’ pitcher Doug Fister kept the Giants at bay for seven innings. The Giants avoided a shutout when Brandon Crawford hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Pablo Sandoval.

The Giants were not amazing behind the plate. Buster Posey, Sandoval, and Hunter Pence all went 1-4, while Brandon Belt went 2-3 and Brandon Crawford was 0-3.

The Giants will try to end the NLDS tomorrow at home with Ryan Vogelsong on the mound.

Breaking: Hundreds of Giants fans turned away at gate


Photo under  Creative Commons by randychiu
Photo under Creative Commons by randychiu

Update: After the fiasco of what happened last Monday, the Giants acknowledged their error and attempted to make it right to their fans by either offering assistance in purchasing tickets to the National League Championship Series before they went on sale to the public or compensating a game in the 2015 season.

The Giants are also making sure this issue does not happen again by sending out emails notifying fans that their ticket should read “NLCS Home Game One” and posting examples on their Twitter and Facebook. As for the expense that were put out to get to the game, i.e. parking, Bart, or toll, they will not be reimbursing fans for those expenses.

Today at AT&T Park, hundreds of Giants fans were turned away at a game for having tickets to “home game three,” a game that does not exist since there will be only two home games at AT&T park.

According to Giants representatives, the tickets were originally sold when there was belief that the Giants were going to have a game three, this was before the Giants played the Pirates. When the Giants won the wildcard and continued on to face the Nationals, the schedule changed but not the tickets.

The Giants failed to email and notify hundreds of fans that their tickets, which were already purchased, were invalid for any NLDS game. The Giants informed their fans that their money would be reimbursed after the Giants’ season was over. As for all other expenses, well sometimes you have take a loss.

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.

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.

Seven things all freshmen should know

Photo under  Creative Commons by rafael-castillo
Photo under Creative Commons by rafael-castillo


Hi, I am Anais Fuentes.  I will be graduating in December (FINALLY) and  feel like I should share some of the knowledge I have acquired throughout my years here at SF State. Here are seven tips I wish I would have known going in to college.


  1. Get to know your professors.

-Trust me, professors do not bite. In fact, the more questions you ask, the more you meet them at their office hours, and the more you talk to them after class, the easier the semester will be for you.


  1. Download the NextBus and Routesy apps

-No more waiting endlessly for the bus every morning. Once you download these apps, you can sleep in little longer and actually have time to eat breakfast in the morning; both of these apps provide information on Muni and BART times, making your morning compute much easier.


  1. $1 Monday nights at El Rio.

-Most of you probably are not even twenty-one yet, but this tip is for your future selves. Every Monday, El Rio, located in the Mission district, serves one dollar Tecates and three dollar well drinks. Basically the best deal ever and a great way to blow off some of the stress college supplies. You are welcome.


  1. Get a Clipper Card. (If you take public transportation)

-Trust me, I did not get one until my senior year, and after three hundred dollars in Muni fines, I decided it was time. It is totally worth it. No more freaking the fuck out every time a ticket inspector walks into the bus, because BAM – you can whip out your Clipper card.


  1. There is a campus Pub.

-Yep, located right in the heart of the Cesar Chavez Center. When you turn twenty-one, you can chill out and get a beer after your three-hour class, or before it, or during. Whenever.


  1. Get a student ID

-I did not know how or where to get a student ID OneCard until a couple of years into college and once I found out I got one every year. First of all, it is FREE so why not? Also, you can get student discounts with that card. All you have to do is go down to the OneStop Student Services building and get your picture taken.


  1. Do not buy textbooks before the semester starts.

– I made this mistake one too many times. I thought that I would be all prepared for the semester and get my books ahead of time, but that turned out to be a horrible idea. Many times, the books would just sit around on my desk for the whole semester collecting dust because the professor decided not to use them or I later realized the book is available for free online. So yeah, do not be an overachiever and get your books ahead of time because you will regret it.



Quest for Three: Giants Rally in the Eighteenth

Pablo Sandoval came through in the ninth inning by hitting an RBI single into left field. Photo under  Creative Commons by Rajiv Patel
Pablo Sandoval came through in the ninth inning by hitting an RBI single into left field.
Photo under Creative Commons by Rajiv Patel

Tim Hudson faced Nationals’ ace Jordan Zimmermann in game two of the NLDS (National League Division Series) and it was downright nerve-wracking. A week ago, Zimmermann pitched his first career no-hitter and coming from a high like that, who knew how he would pitch. The Giants and Nationals played the longest game in postseason history with18 innings, playing for an epic total of six hours and twenty-four minutes. The Giants won 2-1 in the eighteenth inning.

Hudson had an up and down season this year due to a hip and shoulder injury. It appears he has gotten better though, since Giants manager Bruce Bochy sent him to the mound.

In the bottom of the third, Hudson gave up a run after Anthony Rendon singled, allowing Asdrubal Cabrera to score. From there on out, it was a pitching dual between Hudson and Zimmermann. In the ninth, Joe Panik was walked by Zimmermann.

Buster Posey hit a bloop into center field, moving Panik to second and Posey on first.  Pablo Sandoval was up, with two on and two out. Sandoval came through in the ninth by hitting an RBI single into left field, and Panik scored, tying the game. Tim Flannery, the Giants’ third base coach, sent Posey home trying to make the Giants lead by one run.

After being called out at home, Bochy questioned the call. It was a long three minutes while everyone waited for the outcome, but the play stood, and Posey was out at third, with the game tied in the ninth.

The bottom on the tenth rolled around and things took an ugly turn for the Nationals’ when Cabrera and Matt Williams, the Nationals manager, were ejected after arguing a called strike.

Belt came through in the eighteenth, hitting a home run off Roark, putting the Giants ahead 2-1. Hunter Strickland was called in to finish the Nationals. With one on, Strickland struck Jason Werth out and got the save for the Giants.

Hudson pitched seven and one-third innings, giving up one run, no balls, and eight strikeouts. After allowing a hit to Rendon in the eighth, Hudson’s night was over, and Jean Machi made his post season appearance for the Giants. After Rendon stole second, Machi exited the game and Javier Lopez entered, trying to keep the Nationals’ from doing any more damage. In the bottom of the ninth, Sergio Romo kept the game tied.

Yusmeiro Petit came in during the bottom of the twelfth and pitched spectacularly until the seventeenth inning. Petit pitched six innings with one hit, three balls, seven strikeouts, and no runs.

The Giants were not their usual selves yesterday. Pablo Sandoval went 1-7 extending his hitting streak to thirteen and Hunter Pence was 2-7. Buster Posey, who got the first hit for the Giants, and then another in the ninth, went 3-6.

The Giants will have Sunday off and fly back to San Francisco where game three will take place at AT&T Park.  Madison Bumgarner will be back out of the mound to try to get a win and have the Giants win the NLDS at home.


Otaku Obscura: a tribute art show to Japanese animated films

Joshua Budich does a sketch of a donut on one of his prints for a fan. (Lorisa Salvatin/ Xpress Magazine)
Joshua Budich does a sketch of a donut on one of his prints for a fan. (Lorisa Salvatin/ Xpress Magazine)

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  • Joshua Budich fans stand outside Spoke Art Gallery before the debut of his exhibition, "Otaku Onscura", on Oct. 4. 2014.
  • Photographer, Jean-Baptiste Petitpas, looks at Budich's pieces inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro".
  • Art enthusiasts and anime fans, Jung Lah and Liz Clinkenbeard, discuss Budich's art.
  • Spoke Art regular, Peepers stopped by to take a peep at "Otaku Obscura" with her owner Jon Wentz, a painter who also shows at the gallery.
  • Spoke Art assistant director, Jessica Ross (right), rolls up a print of "Mei" for Wen Pan.
  • Prints inspired by the animes "Cowboy Bebop" (left) and "Neon Genesis Evangelion".
  • Budich's homage to Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro".
  • Budich's art inspired by "Akira".

Photos & Words by Lorisa Salvatin

Not even the sweet sounds of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass can keep anime fans and art enthusiasts from lining up half an hour or more before Josh Budich‘s San Francisco debut of his exhibition at the Spoke Art Gallery. But what else can be expected from what people may call, Otaku, or individuals with obsessive interests? The Maryland-based artist shares and portrays his passion for anime and art in his latest exhibition, properly named “Otaku Obscura.”

“I was a child of Saturday morning cartoons,” says Bundich, explaining that he started getting into anime to try to get away from the more conventional cartoons playing on television, such as “Looney Tunes.” As he grew out of kids’ cartoons into his teens, he yearned for something with a little more punch.

Budich began watching the anime Akira in his freshman year of high school. And after discovering other animes like Robo Punch and Dragon Ball Z, he was hooked. Such classic anime would inspire the current exhibition that is displayed in the Spoke Art Gallery until Oct. 24.

He wanted his art to bring people back to familiar animes that invoked a sense of nostalgia, allowing them to say “Oh! I remember that!” “Otaku Obscura” includes familiar screen printed images from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Princess Mononoke, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and My Neighbor Totoro.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface,” said Budich, on using silk screen as his method of art. He points out that while screen printing has the ability to bring out the colors and vibrance of his work, he also wants to show his appreciation for the growing culture of screen printers. With every piece he aimed to combine anime and art.

“I wanted to pay homage to the original art,” says Bundich.

While the larger pieces depict more scenic frames from anime, such as Mei and The Wolf Stole Her Soul, and Now She Lives to Kill Me, his 12×16 artworks are more character based, taking art from manga and making portraits of Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell and Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop. The Otaku inside him comes out when he talks about how his print, “Mei,” was inspired by his daughter.

“I’m really happy with all of it,” as he looks through the windows at his work.


Quest for Three: Giants Hung On for the Win

Photo under Creative Commons by Martin Alleusl

Today was game one of the National League Division Series, NLDS, in Washington and Jake Peavy was nothing but spectacular in his first post season appearance as a Giant. With the same line-up behind Peavy as the wildcard, it was going to be a good game with the Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg on the mound. The Giants won game one of the NLDS with a score of 3-2.

Peavy pitched five and two-thirds with one hundred and four pitches thrown, two of those being walks, three balls, and three strikeouts. Javier Lopez replaced Peavy in the bottom of the fifth followed by Hunter Strickland. At first, Strickland dominated the Nationals, showing us why Bruce Bochy called him up from the minors, but in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Nationals finally had their time to shine. Strickland allowed two separate home runs, one to Bryce Harper and the other to Asdrubal Cabrera, giving the Giants a one run lead.

Jermey Affeldt came in to save the struggling Strickland and helped the Giants get out of the seventh inning. In the eighth, Giants favorite Sergio Romo made his appearance and gave the team a whirlwind of an eighth inning. Romo gave up a single with threat, Jason Werth, on deck. After getting Werth out, the Nationals continued to hurt the Giants when Romo had two on with one out. Romo barley made it out of the eighth, but no damage was done.

In the ninth, Santiago Casilla made his appearance to close the game out, preserving the Giants one run lead. Casilla pitched flawlessly with a one, two, three inning, getting his first save of the postseason. He helped the Giants defeat the Nationals.

Joe Panik started the rally for the Giants, after Travis Ishikawa moved to third on a passed ball by the catcher, he was able to score after Panik hit an RBI in the third inning. In the fourth inning, Hunter Pence was able to steal second, which greatly benefited the Giants when Brandon Belt hit an RBI (run batted in) single, scoring Pence. In the seventh, Panik was at it again, hitting a triple that brought Buster Posey up to the plate. Posey then hit an RBI single, scoring Panik.

Game two of the NLDS will be tomorrow in Washington. Tim Hudson will be on the mound for the Giants in his first 2014 postseason start.

Quest for Three: Giants win the National League Wildcard

Photo under Creative Commons by Rajiv Patel

The Giants beat the odds again, after being plagued with injuries and not doing as well as most, the Giants won the National League Wildcard slot against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a score of 8-0.

Madison Bumgarner, the Giants’ ace, was on the mound tonight and pitched flawlessly, throwing a complete game shutout, with one walk, four hits, and ten strikeouts. Brandon Crawford was tonight’s hero, hitting a grand slam in the fourth inning and giving the Giants their first runs of the game. Pablo Sandoval made an amazing play in the bottom on the seventh, catching a foul ball over the railing of the Pirates’ dugout before falling in and keeping a hold of the ball.

Things could have taken a turn for the worse in the first inning though, after a routine fly ball was hit toward Pence, causing a Pence/Panik collision when Panik did not hear Pence calling him off and the two collided. Amazing enough, Panik did not drop the ball and kept a runner from scoring.

The runs kept on coming when Brandon Belt hit an RBI (runs batted in) single in the fifth, scoring Hunter Pence, and then hitting another RBI in the seventh, scoring Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. The Giants kept hold of their lead, making amazing play after amazing play and defying odds.

Pablo Sandoval went 2-4, hitting two singles, Panik went 3-5, all singles, but still getting on base, while Posey went 2-5 with an RBI in the eighth and Pence hitting 1-4.

In a post game interview, Bumgarner says he did nothing special, just tried to make pitches, adding that he feels good going in against the Nationals, knowing that Peavy and Hudson will be on the mound.

The Giants’ skipper, Bruce Bochy says that he told his guys to be patient and slow it down out there. He added that it is hard to put together a better game than what we had [tonight]. Bochy says that they are all still very excited to be playing.

The Giants are off to Washington to face the Nationals in the National League Division Series (NLDS), playing Friday and Saturday night before flying home to start game three of the NLDS at AT&T Park. It is speculated that Jake Peavy will most likely start the series in Washington, followed by Tim Hudson.

Happy Safe Sex-ing, SF State

Photo under Creative Commons by Nate Grigg

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die.”


Coach Carr instilling fear in the teenagers of America in 2004’s Mean Girls is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a sex education class. But SF State’s Minor in Sexuality Studies takes a different approach when teaching students about intimate relationships, reproduction, and the moral contexts of sex and love.

Megan Stoeckel, a senior at SF State enrolled in a sexuality course to fulfill her segment three requirement. She also learned about various methods of birth control. Before taking sex education classes, she says she pretty much only knew about the pill and condoms as effective methods of birth control; now, she is educated in over twenty different methods to combat unwanted pregnancy.

“Ivy Chen is the best teacher I’ve ever had; You learn and write about things that are applicable to your own sex life,” says Stoeckel about her Contemporary Sexuality course.

When thinking about what the best methods of birth control, it is important to remember that one size does not fill all.

This article will be covering just a few methods to combat unwanted pregnancy.


Contraceptive Sponge

The greatest thing about the sponge is that you can buy a pack of three at your local Wal-Mart for only $9.96. The foam sponge is small, soft, and shaped like Trish’s Mini Donuts from Fisherman’s Wharf. It is inserted straight into the vagina along the back wall against the cervix, acting as a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. This method will only work against pregnancy for twenty four hours and must be left inside of the vagina for at least six hours after intercourse. There is a chance that the sponge may tear during use, leading to a messy clean up as you fish all the pieces out. Anywhere from 9 percent to 24 percent of woman using this method alone will become pregnant each year.

Pullout Method

A craze seemingly-perfect for college students who are pinching pennies, this method is absolutely free. If you are worried about pre-ejaculation leading to an unwanted pregnancy, the most recent study found that about one-third of the pre-cum samples collected from men contained live sperm. So, if it is a risk you are willing to take, I suggest using apps like Glow and Clue to track you, or your partner’s, menstrual cycle, which will notify you when you, or your partner, are most fertile. Using a condom during these dates can help reduce possible pregnancies when relying on the pullout method.

Vasaigel – Male Birth Control (coming soon)

If human trials run smoothly, a reversible form of male birth control may be here by 2017. Vasaigel will enter the male body through an injection straight into the vas deferences, the tube transfers sperm in anticipation of ejaculation, thus blocking sperm from flowing freely through the urethra. So far, this method has been tested on three baboons and had a whopping success rate; after six months of frequent action with ten to fifteen female baboons, none of them have gotten pregnant. Cameron Shubb, an SF State senior says about the male birth control, “I would certainly use it after it was approved. I feel male birth control takes pressure off women, God knows you all go through a lot, I just try to avoid needles unless I really need them.”

Female Condom

The first time I saw a female condom was three years ago, freshman year, when I got my first brown paper bag full of goodies from the SF State Health Center. In the midst of multi-colored condoms and lubricant was an oversized white package with a hot pink Venus symbol stamped on the front. Confused, I opened up the package and found a large plastic pouch with two rings at each end. To use a female condom, one end is to be inserted into the vagina while the other ring remains outside. Sure it may look unattractive, but unlike many of the other methods, female condoms work against preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

Male Condom

Male condoms are one of the few ways that not only prevent unwanted pregnancy but also work against dangerous sexually transmitted diseases. The list goes on and on from working against gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV. Free condoms, both latex and non-latex, can be found in the Educational & Referral Organization of Sexuality Center in Cesar Chavez and at the SF State Health Center. If you are up for a treat, a variety of condoms can be found at San Francisco’s Good Vibrations, a sex based shop that carries vegan, studded and glow in the dark condoms. Prices vary from $0.30 to $2.50 per condom.

The Pill 

The pill is a hormone based oral contraceptive that alters your body’s ability to get pregnant. This is done by attacking your body with extra hormones which in turn keeps the female eggs from leaving the ovaries and also by thickening the cervical mucus, preventing sperm from traveling through freely. One of the major problems with this method is remembering to take it daily, which can be a struggle for the busy college student. The myPill app, available in the Apple App Store, promises to make sure you will never miss a pill ever again by sending reminders.


There are a wide variety of contraceptive options out there and it is safe to say there is an option for everyone, even if it takes some experimenting. And the best part – there are plenty of places on campus to help you find what suits you best.


The SF State Health Center offers a drop-in birth control clinic where you can quickly refill your prescription on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The center offers along with various informational sessions throughout the year.

By joining Family PACT students can also receive free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Joining the government program is free for Californians and all birth control options, both for men and woman, are provided at no cost. Their offices at located in side the SF State Student Health Center.

The EROS center, located in the Cesar Chavez Student Center M-109, offers safe sex materials including: condoms, dental dams, lubricants and latex gloves. EROS also offers educational events throughout the year. Their next sex education event, P Spot, will highlight how pleasurable prostate stimulation can be. Charlie Glickman, author of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure will be speaking at the event. It will be held on October 8th in the Rosa Parks A-C Student Center at 2:30 p.m.

If all else fails, it is good to know that SF State has an early care and education center where you can drop off your infant while you continue to pursue your education.

Take this survey so we can find out the most popular birth control methods at SF State!

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

 Photo by Brenna Cruz, special to Xpress

Starting today, September 27th, a seemingly unusual partnership starts on Alcatraz Island. From now until April 26th 2015, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz will be shown on the historic federal prison island turned national park site. The significance of this? For starters, this artist will not be attending his own show.

Well, at least not for now. The artist is, and has been, banned from leaving China since April of 2011, and will continue to be indefinitely until Chinese authorities allow him access. He was originally detained for eighty-one days on the premise of “tax evasion,” but has continued to be detained because the Chinese a government suspects him of “other crimes.” Others say it is because Chinese authorities have not liked Ai for some time because of his outspoken politics and art.

Ranked in the top twenty of most influential artists in 2011, it is not hard to believe that Ai has a huge following online, with about one hundred and two thousand followers on Instagram and more than two hundred and fifty-five thousand followers on Twitter. Hashtags including #aicantbehere, #passportnow, and #flowerforfreedom are dedicated to the artist and his work and have been spreading across social media. Since his the first day of his detainment, the artist has taken a picture of flowers on a bicycle and posted it on social media daily, symbolizing his inability to travel; some followers have done the same to show their support of the artist.

So, how is it this show came into fruition then? Curator and executive director of the For-Site Foundation, Cheryl Haines, took it upon herself to come up with one of the most symbolic while slightly ironic places to hold the exhibition. Haines has been planning with Ai since his release from jail two years ago, when she offered to bring him a prison for his work to be featured in.

“This exhibition is a very large undertaking for our foundation and addresses some very basic issues important to us all, the need for human rights, freedom of expression, and the role that communication plays in creating a just society,” said Haines in an interview with SF Gate.

The curator, the artist, the For-Site Foundation, Golden Gate National Recreation Area (the National Park area that has managed Alcatraz since 1972), Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (the nonprofit partner of the GGNRA), along with groups of volunteers have worked together to plan and execute this exhibition.

Many of the pieces in this art show are a part of a larger global discussion – that of prisoners of conscience. The goal of this initiative is to draw attention to other activists and political prisoners locked up or put under house arrest globally, and the injustice in such a system that allows this. The exhibition includes pictures of one hundred and seventy-six prisoners of conscience, including Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Martin Luther King Junior, made out of one point two million LEGOs and then constructed by volunteers in San Francisco following more than two thousand sheets of instruction put together by Ai.

“Alcatraz has been a place for movements of freedom to be seen ever since the indigenous people occupation in the 1970s. With Ai Weiwei’s exhibit, this brings the same conversation to a global scale,” says Alexandra Picavet, public affairs officer for Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Entrance to see @Large is technically free, because Alcatraz Island is a National Park site, but the ferry ride over to the island via Alcatraz Cruises is $30. Other packages are available as well, with things like the early bird special and gift for $50 and a guided tour plus the gift for $125. You do have to make sure you purchase tickets in a bit early – they tend to sell out a few weeks in advance.

But this show is much more than LEGOs. Every part of the exhibit intends to send a message; a colorful dragon kite representing personal freedom, porcelain flowers in sinks and toilets representing the comfort flowers could bring to prisoners, and a giant wing, made out of repurposed Tibetan solar cookers and kettles, representing freedom that can be viewed by visitors, but not accessed are just a few of the pieces of the exhibit.

Although it is also aesthetically pleasing to visit, @Large raises more important questions than “why did he chose that color over this other one?” It brings visitors and onlookers to think about what exactly constitutes right and wrong, who deserves to be treated like a criminal, who does not, and what type of society we live in now, the year 2014, that would allow this and many other injustices in the world.

As Ai has been quoted time and time again, “If there is no freedom of expression, then the beauty of life is lost. Participation in a society is not an artistic choice, it’s a human need.”

Moving away from home experiences: SF State Edition

 Creative Commons photo by DeSalesUniversity

If you Google “moving away from home” the first few hundred search results will include the words “why you should move away” or “10 reasons to move away from home,” but none of these include the reasons why nearly 55 percent of young adults have difficulties making the transition from their hometown “bubble” to the unknown realms of the college campus.

According to a study done at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011, only 14 percent of college students attend college five-hundred or more miles away. Some of the factors that go into these statistics correlate with the amount of money it costs to live further away from home; families tend to spend 5 percent less on college expenses when their child commutes from home.

Other factors are less financial and more psychological; one study done by a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama showed that one out of ten college students have such bad anxiety and symptoms of depression when they move away from home that they seek therapy.

For some students, seeking therapy isn’t enough. “About the first week of move in, before the school semester had even started, a first-time freshmen resident was experiencing major anxiety about being at college and in a dorm environment and moved back home,” said SF State student and resident assistant Kandice Niziurski.

The twenty-one-year-old also felt symptoms of mental distress come within the second and third month of being away from home. “Once I got here, the first month was kind of a haze, but the second month it began settling in that I was really on my own and I had my first real encounter with what depression is.”

In the journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is defined as “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.”

For eighteen-year-old Kylie Johnson, the move from Temecula to San Francisco didn’t only detach her from the comfort of her parents, but from the once inseparable bound between her twin sister and her.

Photo under Creative Commons by DeSalesUniversity

Even with the downsides of moving hundreds of miles away from home, a large majority of college students found the silver lining in this transition point of their lives.

For Niziurski, it was the engagement of extracurricular activities and a workout schedule that helped her bounce back and create a stable and healthy lifestyle for herself in the Fog City.

“If I had to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat because I always wanted to move away from home and this gave me the opportunity to do that and learn about myself through the transition,” says Niziruski.

For other students, moving away from home was their escape. “I needed to get away from the L.A. scene back home and I love how people here are much more open-minded,” says English literature major Audry Struthers.

Another key factor in students flying the coop is the yearning to become independent. “I was way too dependent on my parents and family back in Southern California, so I needed to escape that and learn what it’s really like to be on my own,” says SF State student Rebecca Vasquez.

Some of those responsibilities for students include learning to cook, clean, and take care of themselves for the first time in their life.

“One of the negatives of this experience has been having to do everything on my own and balancing school work, but it has been a good life lesson so far,” says Struthers.

For a majority of students, with the new zip code comes a new, fresh identity, with no strings attached. “I have really been put out of my comfort zone – I was really shy and introverted back home and I feel like in San Francisco I can explore my true self and blossom into a more outgoing person,” says Vasquez.

Young artists showcase work at ‘the loin’

Artwork by contributors of the Poor Won Jive collective. (Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)

Doing what you love and making money don’t often fall into the same category. Put into the mix being a college student, and those odds drop even lower. But sometimes being both young and passionate work out to ones advantage.

Take Poor Won Jive, for example. A collaboration of three young artists, who are using their talents, connections and their drive to make a name for themselves in the art world of San Francisco. Initially created as an art magazine, Poor Won Jive became a haven for other young art contributors who had art to hang but no wall to hang it on, so to speak. Brothers Roarke Lacey, 25, and Colin Lacey, 21, and friend Jesse Simmons, 21, are of the three men who created the group. Collectively, they wanted to create a place to expose the artwork of young people, who don’t always have the resources to do so.

“I don’t think any of the artists we’ve featured have been over their twenty’s,” said Colin Lacey, “typically it’s the younger people that don’t have a place to display their work.”

After three magazine issues and more and more contributors giving Poor Won Jive their artwork, the guys decided to showcase these artists in a more effective way. That’s where Jeff Bruton stepped in. Bruton, 41, is the owner of The Loin, an apparel, art and assorted goods store located in the Tenderloin.

“I knew Poor Won Jive as a bunch of young artists that weren’t getting any publicity for the work that they were doing,” said Bruton, “and I wanted to be the one to give exposure to those artists.”

Poor Won Jive’s trio Colin Lacey, Jesse Simmons and Roarke Lacey. (Martin Bustamante/Xpress Magazine)

Bruton thought that his store, which used to be located on Eddy St., was going to close down due to rent increase, but was shocked to find a last minute location on Larkin St. to keep the ship afloat. Bruton thought, what better way to celebrate the grand opening of his new space then with an art gallery gathering young artists and speculators and a keg of beer to welcome the Loin back into the game?

So fittingly titled “Friends,” the Poor Won Jive group art show fulfilled the artist’s expectations of both exposure of art and selling the art, and even set precedence for not only a great art show but also a damn good time.

“Whether all the kids that showed were here to buy art or were just here for the beer, the purpose of bringing people together for art and fun was perfectly executed. And hey, there are some ‘sold’ signs on the pieces, so it seems quite a success to me,” said Lena White, who heard about the art show from a friend.

The gallery showcased over 10 artists, all of whom had their work for sale. On top of the work, the gallery also sold Poor Won Jive’s magazines and the Loin’s apparel and goods.

The artwork was affordable, the music was good and the crowd was drunk. All in all, the art gallery demonstrated what young artists in San Francisco are capable of with a bunch of gutless talent, the right connections and some friends to make it all worthwhile.