Category Archives: City

Happy Safe Sex-ing, SF State

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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.

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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’

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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.”

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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.

Concert Review: Porter Robinson

Lights showered down on hundreds of people filling the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium last Friday, their bodies moving and hands waving to the thumping bass emitted from the stage. On occasion, a colorful LED hula hoop or a person lucky enough to find shoulders to climb on finds their way to the surface of the sea of hands. At its horizon, backlit by colorful pixelated images is the maestro of this energy pulsing through the venue: Porter Robinson.
 
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  • Lemaitre opens up for Porter Robinson
  • Lemaitre opens up for Porter Robinson
  • Bay Area native, Charlie Yin, a.k.a. Giraffage warms of up the crowd with his low-fi, downtempo dj set at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
  • Giraffage closing off his set.
  • Porter Robinson opens up his set with "Sad Machine".
  • The crowd throw their hands in the air as confetti drops from ceiling.
  • More confetti showers over the crowd with the end of Porter Robinson's last song.
The night opens with electronic duo touring from Oslo, Lemaitre, whose vocally driven mix of a little funk and a hint of Indie warms up the crowd. While a follow up by Bay Area native, Giraffage, brings the vibes down, with his low-fi, down-tempo DJ set, playing a number of his originals and handful of remixes, including “Money” and a drop filled rendition of R. Kelly’s “Remix to Ignition.”
But the crowd clearly came for Porter Robinson, filing into the venue as the lights dim, marking the headliner’s set. Lit only by the translusent table at the center of the stage, he presses the key on his midi, filling the room with a light hum, before exploding into “Sad Machine.” The crow dances and sings along to “Lionhearted,” other remixes Robinson plays, and his originals as well, including “Flicker” and “Sea of Voices.”
 “This is the first time playing in front of a crowd this big,” Robinson says to the crowd, noting that he has played a number of larger electronic music festivals, but this is the first time he’s gotten to sing in front of his own crowd this large.

Hazing Tragedy Shakes Bay Area Greek Life

A Cesar Chavez student center view of SF State's campus. Creative Commons photo by Librarygroover
A  view of SF State’s campus from the Cesar Chavez student center. Photo under Creative Commons by Librarygroover

Along Malcolm X Plaza, fraternities and sororities set up booths to advertise Fall “rush,” where prospective students participate in a recruitment period in hopes of gaining an invitation to the Greek organization of their choice.

Justin Lovell, 22, historian of SF State’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter, remembers when he pledged his fraternity. “It was honestly the best part of my college experience,” says Lovell. During his pledge, he participated in social networking events with sororities, did volunteer work, and learned about the organization’s long history.

SF State’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter is currently home to fifty-six active members. Lovell has been able to find the best friends he’s ever had and admires the strong sense of brotherhood within the fraternity.

But despite all the fond memories of his chapter, this year, the members of Pi Kappa Phi are haunted by the tragic death of an associate member.

In the midst of summer, Cal State Northridge student and Pi Kappa Phi pledge Armando Villa, 19, participated in SAW (Super Awesome Weekend), a 14-16 mile round trip hike along with other Pi Kappa Phi pledges and brothers. The fraternity-sponsored event in the Angeles National Forest quickly escalated into a disturbing scene when Villa was found by a Pi Kappa Phi brother in a ditch, where he lay in great distress, barefoot, and blistered. He was pulled out by frantic fraternity members who attempted to cool him down by sprinkling him with water. Villa was pronounced dead upon hospital arrival.

university investigation of the fraternity was conducted due to the accusations of hazing. In the investigations findings, it was discovered that the pledges were given one gallon of water each and had run out of water between one-third to three-quarters of the way through the hike. The pledges, showing signs of heat exhaustion, reported feeling disorientated and dizzy.

The condition of Villa’s feet was most likely due to his instruction by fraternity members to wear shoes that were too small for his feet while on the hike.

On Friday, the Zeta Mu Chapter at Cal State Northridge announced a permanent voluntary withdrawal and closure of the chapter.

“Although closing a chapter is never an easy decision, Pi Kappa Phi expects our students to uphold and abide by the fraternity’s risk management policy and standards of conduct. Hazing has no place in our fraternity,” says Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes.

“They put all of us in a bad light; we don’t want to be seen as hazing douchebags,” says Lovell about the incident, aware of the organization’s strict no hazing policy. The SF State student defines hazing as making someone do something they don’t want to do. SF State University’s policy on hazing describes it as acts of physical abuse, excessive mental stress, and verbal abuse.

Lovell says SF State’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter takes anti-hazing education and prevention very seriously, which has resulted in a 20-year-long incident free streak at the university. The death of Villa now serves as a reminder of the dangers of hazing at SF State.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Boba Places in SF

Boba

With a dry and sweltering atmosphere, only two words can describe this Bay Area moment – disgustingly hot. Out comes the cargo shorts, bro tanks, and flower crowns. No, we’re not at Coachella. We’re in San Francisco, and it just hit 72 degrees. The sun’s blazing rays make me feel grimy and parched. During these unusually hot SF days, drinking boba is the best way for me to beat the heat.

Milk tea, also known as boba, a pearl drink, or bubble tea, is a refreshing mix of milk, sugar and tea. The result is a smooth and creamy taste. The drink comes in a variety of flavors and can be served either hot or cold. From tropical flavors like passion fruit and mango, to stronger ones like earl grey and Oolong. This popular tea drink, which originated from Taiwan, contains sweet, gummy tapioca balls made from cassava root. The boba hype has been huge in the city, so I searched for the best boba cafes.

1. Boba Guys3491 19th Street

Boba Guys is not your traditional boba joint. For starters, they have interesting flavors like horchata, coconut green tea, and muscat oolong. The cafe’s minimal interior design is very Tumblr-esque with its white walls, wooden countertops, and chalkboard menu. Drinks cost around $3 to $4, which is a bit pricy for boba, but you’re getting high-quality milk tea. Forget the powder tea packets. Boba Guys brews all their drinks with real tea and mixes them with Straus organic milk. I’ve been there multiple times, so it’s safe to say their drinks have a perfect consistency. The tapioca balls are not overcooked, not too chewy, and the tea is never overpowering. It’s not too creamy, not too sweet, just right. If you want a sweeter drink, you can adjust the sweetness by asking  a “bobarista,” (seriously, that’s what they’re called) they’ll adjust the drink.

Drinks to try: Horchata Milk Tea, Iced Matcha Latte, Hong Kong Style

Brown sugar milk tea with honey boba from Plentea.
Brown sugar milk tea with honey boba from Plentea.

2.  Plentea341 Kearny Street

Instead of using sugary syrups, Plentea blends fresh fruit in their drinks. This creates sweet, light tasting milk teas, and you can actually taste the fruit. The tapioca is soft and not too chewy. You can choose from a variety of toppings like aloe, honey boba, lychee jelly and more. Like other boba places, you can adjust the drink’s sweetness.  All drinks are served in glass bottles that you can keep. Bring yours back and you’ll get a discount on your next drink. Word of advice: ask your server to go easy on the ice. Too much ice waters down the flavor.

Drinks to try: Brown Sugar Ice Milk With Pudding, Sea Salt Crema With Honey Boba

A variety of milk teas from TPumps.
A variety of milk teas from TPumps.

3. Tpumps1916 Irving Street

Like Plentea, you can adjust the sweetness of your drink and add honey flavored tapioca balls. But with Tpumps, the combination of flavors are endless.  You can mix up to three flavors together and add a variety of boba and jellies. There are many flavors to choose from: peach, passionfruit, lychee, mango, blueberry, the list goes on! Flavors are consistent and the tea is well-brewed. The teas are not strong, and they do not taste diluted as compared to other places.

Drinks to try: Lychee Raspberry Rose Milk Tea, Mango Peach Milk Tea With Honey Boba

Kiwi fruit  tea from Sharetea.
Kiwi fruit tea from Sharetea.

4. Sharetea5336 Geary Blvd

Matcha red bean, brown rice milk, and taro are just a few of Sharetea’s unique flavors. Their tapioca is too chewy in my opinion, but their  flavors are on point. Drinks have a good milk to tea ratio. My personal favorite was the Hokkaido pearl milk tea. It had a rich caramel toffee flavor.  It was a bit salty, but also sweet. If you’re looking for some authentic tapioca drinks, Sharetea is the place to go.

Drinks to try: Hokkaido Pearl Milk Tea, Mango Milk Tea

5. Purple Kow, 3620 Balboa St

Purple Kow has a ridiculously long wait, but that is ok, because their drinks are worth it. And $3 to $4 gets you a huge cup (it will NOT fit in your cupholder). This place has hands down, one of richest flavors of milk tea. The drinks are really sweet and creamy, which is great, because I have big sweet tooth. The texture reminds me of a milkshake. Warning: if you’re not fond of the creamy texture and extreme sweetness, you might get a stomachache, but you can always ask your server to adjust the sweetness or opt for a light flavored milk tea to still enjoy this tasty treat.

Drinks to try: Matcha Green Milk Tea, Honey Milk Black Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5th Annual Giant Race

Photos and Video by Martin Bustamante

On a cool, clear, early Sunday morning, rare for the normally foggy city, runners began to line the Embarcadero in front of AT&T Park to participate in the 5th annual Giant Race. The runners gathered together to run the half marathon, 10k or 5k, all for a great cause, Project Open Hand. The nonprofit donates groceries and healthy meals to elderly and people in San Francisco and Alameda counties who are battling chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDs, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

“Almost every race supports a great cause and the Giant Race is no different,” Ted Torres, a half marathon runner from Atwater, says. “I originally signed up last year because I thought it would be cool to finish a race on the field at AT&T.”

The Giant Race was founded when Project Open Hand and the San Francisco Giants paired together. Originally, Project Open Hand would rent out AT&T Park for their Plate to Plate event and allow runners to run inside, but not finish in, the park. The San Francisco Giants saw the cause and work that went into Plate to Plate and decided to align with Project Open Hand to create the Giant Race. The Giants knew that in being a partner in this amazing event, fans would like the idea of running inside of AT&T Park, finishing on the field, and being able to relax on the field post-race.

The Giant Race takes participants on an amazing scenic view of San Francisco while running. Runners start on the corner of 3rd and King Streets and run along the Embarcadero, passing many sights along the way.

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Torres, having just ran his second Giant Race, describes the race as “amazing,” with the thirteen-mile course leading runners past amazing vistas and landmarks. Fisherman’s Wharf and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge are just a couple of these landmarks.

Throughout the race, you are continually cheered on by fellow runners, volunteers, and people watching from their roof tops. For Torres, a Dodgers fan, this amazing cause helped him show a bigger message that he thinks people need to know about.

“I had another reason for running this year—I had a message,” said Torres. “Over the past few years, we have seen far too much violence between fans at games, especially between Giants and Dodgers. I had printed on the back of my shirt, ‘Stop Fan Violence.’ I wanted to show that fans from rival teams can come together to support a good cause.”

As you come to a finish, you are allowed to run onto the field, just like Hunter Pence running the outfield. Once the runners pass through the gates, the crowd erupts into cheers as you run to the end of the race. At the finish line, Lou Seal, the Giants’ mascot, waits to give you a high five, congratulate you your accomplishment, and hands you a snazzy medal with his face on it.

“My experience was great and fun,” said Jennifer Mose, a 10k runner from Rodeo, California. “I got to run this year with my dad; it’s his first time running a 10k. Finishing the race, getting a medal, and being around Giants fans at the best place on Earth.”

Project Open Hand set a fundraising goal this year of $400,000. As of the race, they have raised well over $250,000.

“We are ahead of where we were last year and we are on track to have the best year yet,” Maria Stokes, the Director of Communications at Project Open Hand, said. “People continue to donate even after the race is over and we won’t know the total until a month after the race. We really rely on people to fundraise and donate.”

Stokes added that the Giants were great when it came to helping donate and fundraise for the event. This year, the Giants raffled off a signed Buster Posey bobblehead and all the proceeds from the raffle went to Project Open Hand.

“I think Project Open Hand’s cause is amazing,” said Mose. “There are seniors and critically ill who do not have the opportunity to eat a nutritious meal, and sometimes I feel their needs can be ignored. Just knowing there’s one less individual who is not hungry or feels like no one cares about them make Project Open Hand a worthy cause.”

Next year’s Giant Race is already proceeding full-force: planning of the event and what they are going to do to make it better than the last, there does not seem to be an end date attached to this spectacular event. JT Service, the event coordinator for the Giant Race, said the Giants are happy to host fifteen thousand people for a great event on a day they aren’t playing baseball.

“It’s amazing one person started this all,” said Stokes, referring to Ruth Brinker, founder of Project Open Hand. “We went from feeding seven people to making twenty-five hundred meals a day. This race is one-of-a-kind and we are grateful for everyone’s participation.”

Good vibes and music take over Haight Street

DJ Apollo spinning records at the First Annual Haight Street Music and Merchants Street Festival on Sunday September 7, 2014 (Henry Perez/Xpress Magazine)
DJ Apollo spinning records at the First Annual Haight Street Music and Merchants Street Festival on Sunday September 7, 2014 (Henry Perez/Xpress Magazine)

Throngs of people flocked to Haight Street on Sunday for the 1st Annual Haight Street Music and Merchants Festival.

For the adults, there were drink specials at the many bars along Haight Street, an impromptu car show, and three musical stages featuring local artists and DJs. Bigger names like Talib Kweli and Erykah Badu also made appearances to DJ for the massive crowds.

“We have closed down the streets, we’re not allowing any outside vendors because we want people to really come and shop and spend their money on the merchants on Haight Street instead of having outside vendors,” said Katrina Belda, who was providing event information to guests in addition to passing out free balloons to younger festival attendees.

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  • Overall shot of the First Annual Haight St. Music and Merchants Street Festival on Sunday September 7, 2014 (Henry Perez/Xpress Magazine)
  • 49er fan poses with a street performer at the First Annual Haight Street Music and Merchants Street Festival on Sunday September 7, 2014 (Henry Perez/Xpress Magazine)
  • Nicky Diamonds (center) at the First Annual Haight Street Music and Merchants Street Festival on Sunday September 7, 2014 (Henry Perez/Xpress Magazine)
  • Orly Locquiao (bottom left) setting up a booth at the First Annual Haight St. Music and Merchants Street Festival on Sunday September 7, 2014 (Henry Perez/Xpress Magazine)

Sponsors FTC, Pink + Dolphin, Diamond Supply Co., and Derby SF orchestrated the inaugural event, and saw that Haight Street from Stanyan to Masonic blocked from traffic. There were activities for all ages, including bounce houses, the aforementioned free balloons, and face painting stations.

The mix of activities brought families, street-wear enthusiasts, and curious neighborhood residents out to the event, which felt more like a huge block party than a festival.

After one DJ opted to play a song with a few curse words in it, he apologized. “They want me to keep it clean and family friendly – which I will, after this song.”

“We do plan to do this annually, and hopefully if this year is good we can keep doing it every year,” said Belda.
Clothing retailers Diamond Supply Co. and Pink + Dolphin, who are both relatively new to Haight – Diamond Supply Co., opened for business in August and Pink + Dolphin will be celebrating their one year anniversary in October – coordinated exclusive merchandise releases in honor of the festival.

The first hundred people in the blocks-long line in front of Pink + Dolphin were rewarded with tickets that granted them access to the exclusive gear the shop was selling.

FTC, which has been in its space at 1632 Haight Street for over 20 years, hosted both skate and BMX demos for curious onlookers.

The festival  – not to be confused with the Haight Ashbury Street Fair that has happened every summer for the last 37 years  – was a collaborative effort between older Haight Street businesses and the newcomers to the street.

And unlike the Haight Ashbury Street Fair, which brings in outside food and merchandise vendors, organizers of the Music and Merchants Festival wanted the event to benefit, well, Haight Street merchants.

Remembering 9/11

Photo courtesy of AJ Montpetit
Photo courtesy of AJ Montpetit

Certain moments in history are so monumental that most people will never forget where they were when it happened or when they heard the news. For this generation, 9/11 is that moment.

I am sure I will always remember how I found out about 9/11. I had just recently started the fifth grade at Carr Elementary School in Torrance, Calif., and was nine days shy of my tenth birthday. Sometimes, my mom would turn on the news while I was getting ready for school, but she had not on that day. I walked to school that morning with no idea how the world had changed while I was sleeping. Once we were all in our seats, my teacher, Lauri Beard, told the class what had happened. The air grew heavy as a hush fell over the room. There was no sound but her voice.

I cannot repeat verbatim what she said to us, but the way she told us has always stuck with me. She did not try to sugarcoat things or pretend nothing was wrong just because we were children. She also did not try to scare us with talk of terrorists or warn us that we were under attack. She spoke to us straightforward, calmly, but with gravity. I cannot begin to imagine what she must have been feeling that morning, but I am sure having to tell a room full of mostly ten-year-olds something so horrible was no easy task. Whenever I think back to that awful day, I want to thank her for the way she handled such a difficult situation and the respect she gave us.

I can recall two ways in which my school attempted to convey the enormity of this tragedy to us students, and how they still resonate with me. When Miss Beard broke the news to my class, she told us that there had been enough people in the Twin Towers for them to qualify for their own ZIP code. On one of the following days, a row of easels was set up, each bearing a sheet of newspaper, covered with nothing but columns of names—thousands in all—of the dead and missing. I never would have imagined that mere text could have such a strong visual impact.

At the time, one of my best friends, Huda El-Haj, and her family happened to be Muslim. I remember her telling me about her father, who worked for the U.S. Postal Service, experiencing discrimination after 9/11. Years later, the Muslim Student Association at my community college, Cypress College, hosted Purple Hijab Day to raise awareness about domestic violence. They encouraged female students to don the hijab for a day to support the cause. I wore one of the lavender headscarves they were giving out and got dirty looks from at least a couple people. I was not personally hurt by this, but I could not help but feel for those women who wear the hijab every day as an expression of their faith and are subject to the prejudice I received that day or much worse.

In the thirteen years since 9/11, I have developed an ever-deepening desire to understand the world as best I can. Among other things, I want to have at least a modest comprehension of global politics. That is why I chose to mark the anniversary by attending the Thirteenth Annual Jules Tygiel Memorial Forum on Post-9/11 World Affairs, held on the 13th anniversary at SF State.

The assembled panel spoke on a number of political topics, centered around the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, politics in India, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and U.S. foreign policy. I found the whole discussion fascinating, but the discourse on the Middle East was what I found to be most fitting given the date. Fred Astern, a professor of Jewish studies, pointed out that we cannot yet know how the current state of world affairs will look when framed in a greater historical context. He elicited laughter from the packed room when he said, “the French Revolution—we don’t know how that’s going to turn out.” He also encouraged a shift from the predominant western view of the conflict in the Middle East that “emphasizes European colonialism and imperialism.”

The moderator, history professor Maziar Behrooz, explained some of the similarities and differences between Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Salafism, which are all derived from Islam. I found his description of the Muslim Brotherhood most interesting; Behrooz called it a “reformed” Islam and said that it encourages followers to be Muslim while accepting the likes of modern technology and reason.

Andrei P. Tsygankov, professor of political science and international relations, offered a bit of advice. “The world is changing fundamentally,” he said. “We need to come up with a better definition of what is the world we live in.”

 That will not be easy to do, and it will be even harder to come to something enough people can agree on. Still, Tsygankov is right – the world is not at all the place it was thirteen years ago.

A Culture of Violence is Alive and Well in the NFL

Ray Rice during the  Baltimore Ravens training camp. Creative Commons photo by Keith Allison
Ray Rice during the Baltimore Ravens training camp. Photo under Creative Commons by Keith Allison

Janay Rice was a victim of domestic violence. As individuals who have never had to walk in the shoes of a victim of abuse, we do not know how to accept that she could endure such treatment, even once, and stay. But as the wave of stories have flooded the Internet with the hashtag #WhyIStayed, it has become more clear why women and men from every walk of life do stay.

Janay Rice does not owe us anything. Why she made the choice to follow through with marrying Ray Rice, to openly place blame on herself for the attack, and to defend him now, no one knows but her. What we do know is that there is clear evidence of what Ray Rice did: he spit in her face, knocked her down to the ground, and dragged her on the floor. Janay does not owe us anything, but the NFL owes it to women and society as a whole to allow no tolerance to abuse.

This week , the Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice from the team, and the NFL suspended him from the league. They should have done this seven months ago when the first video documenting the abuse  was released. Now, these decisions have caused more confusion than clarity.

The first video, leaked by TMZ in February, shows the Baltimore Ravens running back drop his then-fianceé’s lifeless body to the ground; the elevator doors hitting against her motionless legs, Rice pushes at her body. The second video, leaked on Monday, September 8th, reveals the full extent of the violence that took place.  For the NFL to not exhaust all of its resources to confirm exactly what happened in that elevator was disregard to all victims of abuse.

Just two years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised to make changes to the league’s policies dealing with domestic violence after a chain of such incidents arose. After acknowledging from the original evidence that the twenty-seven-year-old committed domestic violence, he concluded on July twenty-fourth that a fair punishment was a two-game suspension. The moment the NFL made that decision, they confirmed every accusation that they do not give a shit about women or victims of abuse.

All that this recent video did was show everyone, in detail, what they already knew. Goodell, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, and owner Steve Bisciotti claim that further repercussions were not made because no one in the organization had seen this video before it went viral – this is unacceptable.

Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault and indicted by a grand jury. Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said in a statement that his office approved Rice’s request for New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, allowing him to avoid any jailtime. This led to the NFL’s “halt of fact-finding,” according to Goodell. The video was out there, TMZ got their hands on it, and if no one affiliated with the Ravens, Goodell, or the NFL had seen the video, they chose not to.

The Ravens made an immediate decision to release Rice after seeing the entire surveillance footage, and the NFL followed by suspending him indefinitely. Goodell stated the same day that it is possible that Rice could someday return to the NFL.

The fact of the matter is that twenty-one of the thirty-two NFL teams employed a player with a domestic or sexual violence charge on their record last year, according to statistics from U-T San Diego. Ray McDonald, defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers, was arrested for alleged domestic violence just two weeks ago and played during the team’s first game of the season on Sunday.

Regardless if Rice ends up being suspended permanently, this will not change the history or future of domestic violence in the NFL. The league instated its new Personal Conduct Policy last week, before the new evidence of Rice was revealed. Under the new penalties, domestic violence or sexual assault violations will merit a six-game suspension for a first-time offense and an indefinite suspension of at least one year for a second offense.

This is bullshit, and it has got to change. Violence is not justified by paying fines or sitting on the sidelines. Physical abuse is serious and real and it needs to be treated that way. The NFL is a massive and influential organization and until they drastically change their policies surrounding such conduct, they are fully condoning domestic violence.

Be aware of the new Muni fare

Written by Olympia Zampathas

For all of you students who were already pinching pennies, thanks to their barely affordable lifestyle San Francisco allows, you might want to start saving your quarters as well. As of September 1st, bus fare prices for Muni have been raised, courtesy of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

For the average adult Muni passenger, one Muni pass, valid for ninety minutes from the time of purchase, has been bumped up by $.25, to $2.25. For those of you who are still under eighteen, senior citizens, or disabled, the fare price remains at $.75, so no change there until 2016.

Muni Fare Difference Chart
Data courtesy of SFMTA

For all other casual Muni riders, carrying quarters, dimes, and nickels around just became a little more important; it could make the difference between paying $2.25 or $3 every time you ride the bus. Maybe it’s not such a crazy idea to visit the change machine in the arcade on the bottom floor of the Cesar Chavez Center once a week.

Though the jumps in price aren’t necessarily wallet-breaking, they are something to be aware of. Prices for a Muni monthly pass, in the past four years alone, have risen 9.7 percent, from $62 in 2010 to $68 this month.

Maybe this rise will have you consider applying for a Lifeline pass (if you make under twenty-two thousand dollars per year, you might qualify). Maybe it will make you find an alternative form of transportation around the City. Maybe nothing will change for you at all.

Just make sure when the fare inspectors come onto your bus, you have some proof of payment or be ready to pay a fine up to $110 that comes along with not paying.

 

To find out more information about Muni fares, take a look at SFMTA’s website.