Category Archives: Fall 2013

Quest for Three: Giants drop the ball in Game 3

The Giants return home in hopes of getting the lead in the World Series. Photo by Katie Lewellyn.
The Giants return home in hopes of getting the lead in the World Series. Photo by Katie Lewellyn.

The Giants returned home to the Bay Area for Game 3 of the World Series, but after the Royals got an early jump, the Giants could not catch up. The Giants lost 3-2 and are now behind in the series 1-2.

Tim Hundson made his first ever World Series appearance but was quickly hurt by the Royals. In the first inning, Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI single off Hudson, giving the Royals an early 1-0 lead. Hudson pitched 5.2 innings with four hits, one ball, two strikeouts, and three earned runs.

In the sixth inning, the Royals extended their lead when Alex Gordob hit a line-drive double to center field. Eric Hosmer followed up by singling, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.

The Giants did not give up hope though, and in the sixth, Michael Morse doubled on a ball to left field, scoring Brandon Crawford. With Morse on, Buster Posey hit into a ground out allowing Morse to score. The Giants were on the board 3-2.

The Giants could not make a comeback though, losing 3-2. The Giants will play again today at AT&T Park, hoping to turn this series around and get a win.

 

Tales of a Lyft Driver

Student by day, Erika Maldonado moonlights as a Lyft driver in the City by the Bay. Photo by John Ornelas / Xpress
Student by day, Erika Maldonado moonlights as a Lyft driver in the City by the Bay. Photo by John Ornelas / Xpress

While weekend warriors are out on the town, I’m the one they call when they need a lift.  Most people know it as ride sharing, but the California Public Utilities Commission has officially dubbed app-based ride services Transportation Network Companies, TNCs. Companies like Sidecar and Uber have been making headlines and pissing off taxi drivers for more than a year now. I, however, decided to join the pink moustached fleet known as Lyft about a month ago.

My first passenger was a disgruntled, older woman who was impatient because it took me a whole ten minutes to get to her. I’ve quickly learned working later at night is usually more fun. Drunk people aren’t in a rush to get anywhere and they’re generally in better spirits.  A group of Academy of Art students I picked up even offered to get me a drink at the bar I was taking them to after I told them it was my first night on the job. It was a sweet gesture, but I of course declined.

Drunk passengers can also be challenging. To say the least. My last passengers of the night were two very inebriated women in search of an iPhone that was stolen earlier in the night. I picked them up at a beautiful apartment atop a hill with such a gorgeous view of the city that it reminded me why I pay ridiculous rent to live in a box.

“We’re on a mission. Do you think you can help us out?”

The mission I foolishly accepted involved driving these two petite women who couldn’t have been older than 21 years old to the Tenderloin around 1 a.m. to an address that their Find My iPhone app directed them to. The one whose phone they were trying to track down was the drunker of the two, not surprising.  Twice, she opened her passenger door when I was in motion, frantic because she “NEEDED HER PHONE!”

By the time we got to the location, I was ready to leave these two defenseless young’ns on their own in the T.L. in the middle of the night.

“Do you think you can wait for us for a bit?”

My Christian upbringing forced me to oblige. The app led them to apartment buildings, making it nearly impossible to track down the phone. I gave them five minutes, which is about how long it took these two to realize it was a lost cause.  What did they think was going to happen when they got there anyway? Were they going to ask the thief to please return the phone? It was a doomed mission from the start and I was dumb enough to be an accomplice. I ended up just taking them back to their gorgeous apartment and decided I had enough for my first night on the job.

Considering that I spent three years as a Starbucks barista, being a Lyft driver isn’t the worst job. If you drive during peak hours you keep all the money you make without Lyft taking 15 percent of it. In three hours I can make up to $150 and I can work whenever I want. All I have to do is make sure my car is clean and flip my app to “driver mode.” The decision came partially after feeling safer about regulations put in place for TNCs by the CPUC this past September. And partially because I, like many unfortunate college students, am not getting paid a dime for the 16 hours I put in each week at the news organization I’m interning for.

It isn’t fair for taxi drivers who have have to shell out extra money for permits, have city limitations on fares they can charge and have a separate driver’s license, as mentioned in an earlier Xpress story on Lyft. But working for free when you’re living in a city with one of the most expensive costs of living isn’t fair either.

15 Songs To Rejuvenate Your iPod

Are you tired of the music on your iPod? We’ve all been there. Sometime we reach a point where every song we own seems boring, overplayed and uninspiring. In those moments of crisis, we rummage through Pandora or YouTube for something to reinvigorate and excite us. Such tactics have middling results. But fear not, music lovers. Here are 15 songs to rejuvenate your iPod and get you grooving again. The aim of this piece was to select tunes you may be unfamiliar with, as I feel most of the songs on here often get overlooked. So without further ado, sit back, relax, spark a J and enjoy the tracks.

Continue reading 15 Songs To Rejuvenate Your iPod

Alternative Ways To Get Wasted

John Franco marks his bingo card after his number is called at The Riptide located at 3639 Taraval St. between 46th and 47th avenues, Saturday Sept. 10, 2013. The Riptide hosts bingo night every saturday night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a final round grand prize of a $50 bar tab.  Photo By Tony Santos / Xpress
John Franco marks his bingo card after his number is called at The Riptide located at 3639 Taraval St. between 46th and 47th avenues. The Riptide hosts bingo night every saturday night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a final round grand prize of a $50 bar tab. Photo By Tony Santos / Xpress

Alcohol makes pretty much any situation better. While bar-hopping and some dance therapy can help take the edge off, new and exciting ways to get your drink on works wonders.  Bar trivia nights are great, but these affordable events around the city are fresh ideas for a perfect date, a night out with the crew, or for meeting new people.

Continue reading Alternative Ways To Get Wasted

Catching Crabs

Daniel Hoffman, senior biology major, shows the difference between a Dungeness crab i(left) and a rock crab (right) in his backyard on the first day of the recreational season, Nov. 2, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
Daniel Hoffman, senior biology major, shows the difference between a Dungeness crab i(left) and a rock crab (right) in his backyard on the first day of the recreational season, Nov. 2, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

Words and photos by Tony Santos

Braving the open sea, wrangling wild animals from the depths of the ocean, and taking the kill home to feast upon the meat.

Ok, it’s no Deadliest Catch, but Daniel Hoffman is regularly enjoying fresh Dungeness crab, caught from the comfort of his kayak.

Every few weeks Hoffman, a biology major at SF State who lives a few minutes drive from Baker Beach, loads his kayak into a pickup truck and heads out to make good on what the San Francisco Bay has to offer.

About two years ago Hoffman started kayak crabbing, adding to the other water-related activities he enjoys. He says crabs are abundant in San Francisco and come in shallow waters to spawn, making them an easy catch.

After sending out his nets and waiting a few minutes in the kayak, Hoffman has his first crab, and continues until he’s satisfied. Pulling in the final net, Hoffman paddles in, packs up, and heads home to unload his equipment and catch.

Arriving home, its time for Hoffman to finish the job.  He boils a pot of water with table salt, measuring only with his eyes, and drops in the sweet crustaceans. Once the crabs are done cooking, they must be cleaned.

Hoffman begins by separating the telson—the pointy-triangle on the bottom—from under the abdomen, allowing the body to be detached from the shell. He then removes the gills and guts from the body, leaving legs, claws and torso meat.

A relaxing day on the water, followed by a meal fit for kings—not bad for a day in the life of a student.

Bon appétit!

  • Daniel Hoffman, senior biology major, carries his kayak through is backdoor to load it in his truck. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Daniel Hoffman, senior biology major, carries his kayak through is backdoor to load it in his truck. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Daniel Hoffman, senior biology major, untangles the ropes for his nets before crabbing at Baker Beach Oct. 30, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Daniel Hoffman, senior biology major, untangles the ropes for his nets before crabbing at Baker Beach Oct. 30, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Daniel Hoffman, senior biology major, pulls up a crab net at Baker Beach, Oct. 30, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Daniel Hoffman, senior biology major, pulls up a crab net at Baker Beach, Oct. 30, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • The California Department of Fish and Wildlife requires that Dungeness crab be a minimum five and three quarters of an inch on the widest part of the carapace—the second notch of the shell—in order to be legal. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    The California Department of Fish and Wildlife requires that Dungeness crab be a minimum five and three quarters of an inch on the widest part of the carapace—the second notch of the shell—in order to be legal for catching. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • To trap the crabs, Hoffman uses nets, similar to basketball nets, that have a smaller, webbed rim on the bottom. When the net hits the ocean floor, the larger top rim collapses flat over the bottom, so crabs can crawl onto the net to nibble on the bait. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    To trap the crabs, Hoffman uses nets, similar to basketball nets, that have a smaller, webbed rim on the bottom. When the net hits the ocean floor, the larger top rim collapses flat over the bottom, so crabs can crawl onto the net to nibble on the bait. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Hoffman lights his portable stove to boil crabs in his backyard on the first day of the recreational season, Nov. 2, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Hoffman lights his portable stove to boil crabs in his backyard on the first day of the recreational season, Nov. 2, 2013. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
  • Hoffman cleaning the crab he caught earlier. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
    Hoffman cleaning the crab he caught earlier. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

Summer Ignites Winter

Summer Fenton, Olympic hopeful and SF State Biology major, is on her way to the pre-qualifying round in Colorado
Summer Fenton, Olympic hopeful and SF State Biology major, is on her way to the pre-qualifying round in Colorado. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress

Words and Photos by Mike Hendrickson

Summer Fenton began snowboarding when she was four years old.  By age six she was competing and had picked up her first sponsorship.

When Mammoth Mountain opened November 7th, a month earlier than the slopes in Tahoe, Fenton was among the first groups of boarders who rode the chairlifts to the top.  With winter fast approaching, Fenton is hitting the slopes in anticipation for the Olympic trials in Colorado this month.

“I want to feel how Olympians feel, I want to feel the honor and feel the competitiveness, the adrenaline, and I want to represent my country,” Fenton says.

Currently, Fenton is ranked in the top-ten nationally for women’s halfpipe competitions.  She hopes to be one of three to represent the United States in the 2014 Winter Olympics this February in Sochi, Russia.

When the nineteen-year-old biology major at SF State found out last July that she was invited to the pre-qualifying competitions in Colorado, Fenton said that it provided some extra motivation.

“I needed to get on my snowboard so bad, I’ve been really hungry to go. I hadn’t snowboarded since July in Oregon. I wish I was snowboarding right now actually. It was nice to be back in my environment and I felt at bliss.”

Summer spends California’s many powderless months in workout sessions with her personal trainer. Every other day she spends two-to-three hour sessions running up sand dunes, spending time on a balance, beam or just general core strengthening.

Two years ago, Fenton suffered a head injury that cost her the season. Despite the setback, she looked ahead seeing the positives that came from the situation.

“Last year I basically had to start from the bottom and work my way up to the top, so last year was a big comeback year for me.  It ended up working out well because I did end up qualifying for the Olympic trials.”

She won the Burton US Open qualifiers which lead to being invited to one of the biggest snowboarding competitions in the nation.

“I think it’s anybody’s game and whoever stomps a run will be the winner.”

Winter is coming, and Fenton plans on being that winner.

  • Fenton is a top-ten ranked competitor in the women's halfpipe and is invited to compete in the olympic trials in Colorado this December. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
    Fenton is a top-ten ranked competitor in the women's halfpipe and is invited to compete in the olympic trials in Colorado this December. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
  • Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
    Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
  • loosens her snow boots after a day on the slopes during opening weekend at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
    Fenton loosens her snow boots after a day on the slopes during opening weekend at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
  • Summer Fenton rides the bowl at Balboa Skatepark, San Francisco, Calif. When she's not able to practice in the snow, Fenton uses other board sports such as skateboarding and surfing to help her prepare.  Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
    Summer Fenton rides the bowl at Balboa Skatepark, San Francisco, Calif. When she's not able to practice in the snow, Fenton uses other board sports such as skateboarding and surfing to help her prepare. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
  • Fenton keeps balance while holding up one leg on the balancing beam. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
    Fenton keeps balance while holding up one leg on the balancing beam. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
  • does exercises with leg bands and weights at Lake Merced in San Francisco, Calif. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
    Fenton does exercises with leg bands and weights at Lake Merced in San Francisco, Calif. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
  • Fenton keeps balance while her personal trainer provides resistance during a training session at Lake Merced. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress
    Fenton keeps balance while her personal trainer provides resistance during a training session at Lake Merced. Photo by Mike Hendrickson / Xpress

Inside San Quentin

Photo by Michael Glogowski-Walldorf / Flickr
Photo by Michael Glogowski-Walldorf / Flickr

Written by Bek Phillips

The door clangs shut behind me and a guard behind a window asks for identification. The buzzer sounds as a second door opens and I take my first steps behind the walls, into San Quentin.

But the inside looks nothing like televised prisons.

Tall palm trees, luscious gardens, and a large stonework fountain are reminiscent of ritzy country clubs. Today the atmosphere is completely transformed as sounds of laughter, children’s voices, and a year’s worth of stories permeate the air.

Today is Family Day—a chance for the workers of San Quentin to bring family and guests to explore the world that they encounter day-in and day-out.

As families gather outside the prison walls, children linger close to their parents. A middle-school-aged boy looks like he is about to burst with excitement, but his father’s hand rests protectively on his back as he tells his son stories and gets him ready for the tour. To bring your child into the prison, they must be at least twelve years old. This is his first time visiting and I hear him excitedly tell his sister that he cannot wait to see the gas chamber.

For many people, “bring your child to work” day tends to be centered around the office. Wide-eyed children play on the floor while their parents are typing up reports or busy with other official business. They get led around and bragged about to all the other employees. But for San Quentin, Family Day is a day of celebration as well as giving family members the chance to experience what their loved ones go through on a day-to-day basis.

Fernando Palazio, 25, is also here for the first time. His aunt, Evelyn Rizzo, works as a nurse’s assistant with level three security clearance. Tall with dark curly hair and the shading of a beard, Fernando has an infectious smile and a tendency to speak his mind.

He has heard his aunt tell numerous stories, ranging from the history of the three-wall Diego Rivera mural in the dining hall to the story about an inmate who is renowned for swallowing razor blades and who, at one time, was unable to have one surgically removed and had to pass the blade naturally. But now inside for the first time, he struggles with his expectations and the reality he is surrounded by.

“It’s like it’s a movie,” he murmurs.

The dichotomy between the reality of prison life and the appearance from outside the cells is astounding, a feeling of dual realities clouding the mind. Even as I stand in a beautiful courtyard, the conversations of the tour guards fill the air with despair as they recount the deaths that had occurred right where we were standing.

Talks of prisoners in the Adjustment Center, where the most loathsome and dangerous condemned  prisoners are held bring alive images of them flinging their feces in the guards face, doing everything they could to spite the ones that kept them from freedom. Now, the cells in the Adjustment Center have been remodeled for the protection of the guards, everything has changed—down to the underwear the men wear—no elastic.

At San Quentin there are one-thousand four-hundred-eight employees, one-thousand two-hundred seventy-two who work in non-medical fields. The total inmate population totals four-thousand two hundred fifty-nine, with seven-hundred twenty-two of those living in Death Row. San Quentin is the only prison with a Death Row in California.

The levels of security for a prison are ranked one through four, and maximum security. At this time, there are no level four inmates housed. It’s mainline is level one and two. This means that without Death Row, San Quentin would not be considered a maximum security prison.

Outside, the party atmosphere is complete with a vendor, free t-shirts, burgers, hotdogs, chips, soda—everything you would expect for a perfect barbecue. The prisoners are shuttled back into their cells early so the families have the freedom to explore every aspect of their lives.

The lone vendor selling bundt cakes stands out amidst the festivities “Nothing Bundt Cakes”—the name itself a play on words. But it is more than that. The idea of turning a profit from selling to the families of workers, the prisoners themselves an attraction, leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Soon though  the sounds of barking dogs, rehabilitated by the inmates, and the sound of laughter as gaggles of teenage girls walk by, bring me back to the festivities.

But despite the open, beautiful outdoors, the oppressive nature of life in San Quentin could not be escaped so easily.

The walls making up the outdoor corridors to fields and exercise areas are lined with barbed wire, some collapsible so as to entangle any escapee who tries to maneuver through the weighted snares.

A mural painted in bright colors with hands cradling a world says “we are the curators or life, we hold it in the palms of our hands,” but close by on ancient iron doors the word “terror” is etched with the year “1950”.

Other stark contrasts are the work spaces compared to leisure or study space. The work room for carpentry, displaying a sign forbidding hobby work, is spacious.  It spans the entire floor of a large factory-size building with different areas for carpentry, sewing, chair making, and other such projects. Despite the sign forbidding personal craft, little bits of personality can be found scattered in the form of chair covers with favorite football teams or projects made for the guards.

Conversely, the library, art and music rooms are tiny. The art and music room, with well worn furnishing that looks past its prime and in need of replacing, could be the same size of an average teenager’s bedroom. The library, a diminished small building has about six shelves filled with books and a wall lined with four computers.

The librarian, a friendly elderly gentleman, explains in his soft voice that most prisoners come here for legal work, and to read crime novels, Ann Rule a favorite author.

Despite the small rooms, the creativity displayed by inmates is breathtaking. Expansive and detailed artwork lines the walls of the art room. One spirited female guard, who has worked in San Quentin for six years, explains to wandering tour groups that the inmates operate their own print shop as well, putting out calendars and newspapers, a practice in danger now that the overseer is retiring. For her, the art and music room is refreshing.  In a place where everything is highly structured and tightly scheduled, it provides a break in monotony.

“The environment dictates a lot,” she says. “Here it is a brand new place every day, you never know what you are going to walk into.”

The inmates are allowed a break when they play their weekly baseball games. Over the field the sign reads “San Quentin A’s” in large green sprawling letters, underneath in smaller letters the “San Quentin Giants”. I find myself grinning, thinking “Go A’s!” Looking over the field the mountain and trees are black against the sunset, a scattering of clouds causing the brilliant colors to stand out. A family of twenty to thirty geese live on the field during the off days, guard dogs implemented when it is time to play.

But the openness of the outdoors can be deceiving. Walking into the dining room, the Diego Rivera wall mural—one of three—spans the length of the room. The image depicts life on a ship, temporarily docked, with people bustling about, the image itself  teeming with life. The artistry creates an illusion that no matter where you are, you are in the center, the boat following you.  But what follows the inmates are rules, guards, and structure.

Even Fernando cannot escape from the overwhelming feeling of structured confinement.

“The social places, where they eat, it was almost like they’ll give you such a small small window to feel free. The whole point is that you’re an inmate and everything else is big except for where these people can express themselves or learn,” he says.

Outside, the food is still being served. Dogs, sick or misbehaved that have been sufficiently trained and attended to by inmates, are displayed for adoption in mini cages made up of chicken wire. And for the first time ever, a simulated hostage demonstration by the warden’s office was being held by the Specialized Emergency Team.

Inside, the tour goes on.  The open light air of the bay is being left further and further behind and the darker side of San Quentin continues to emerge. In General Population, where the majority of prisoners are housed, four inmates have allowed for their cells to be put on display for the families of those who police and monitor them.

The cells are stacked five stories high, the rows seemingly endless.  The air immediately gets thicker and waves of claustrophobia come crashing down.

Women wearing close to nothing and posing provocatively are in images that cover the walls. A small shelf on the wall by the toilet are only places for personal belonging. On one shelf are bottles of vitamins. Bunk beds fill the majority of the room, the walls close enough to touch with outreached arms. Not even enough room to do push-ups.

Walking down the hallway, I suddenly feel that eyes are peering back at me as I strain my vision, looking into the darkened cells. Embarrassed, I avert my eyes, trying not to see. As I keep walking I can feel the stares.  One cell opening is covered in a sheet, a silhouette of a man reading filling the small space. The next cell holds in it a middle-aged black man, sprawled across the bed, earphones blasting music as he drowns out the noise of people passing by.

“Afternoon ma’am,” one inmate says. “How is your day going?” He is standing by the barred door, his eyes kind and hair graying.

Before the conversation can go further, a female guard quickly cuts in calling out “No talking inmate,” as she walks towards me explaining that communication is highly discouraged.

“Oh, no, don’t pet the rhino,” Palazio says close by. “They are treating the event like its a day in the zoo, look but don’t touch.  And don’t talk.”

Family day. A day where all can see a friendly facade of prison life—the art, the baseball field, the tennis courts, the jobs in the factory—and yet the reality is lurking in the shadows, reflected in the eyes that stare back for only a moment before shifting away, and back into the darkness.

One guard who oversees inmates in the furniture factory, respects not only the inmate’s craftsmanship but the person’s as well. His voice gets excited and his eyes shine as he talks about them and their craftsmanship.

But, as he tells it, family day is hard for the prisoners with early curfews, and families parading their friends and children by.  He would like the people to see the inmates as he sees them the other three-hundred-sixty-four days he is here.  “On days like this, the inmates feel disrespected,” he says.

“I know a lot of the guys, a lot of them are really smart, smarter than me. They just made a mistake, and it’s behind them. They are people and they can make just about anything in here.”

Lt. Sam Robinson has been at San Quentin for seventeen years, and thinks that focusing on the inmates takes away from what family day is all about.  He believes that the focus should be on the families and giving them an opportunity to connect their loved ones with a job everyone considers essential.

“It is a mechanism to boost moral, you share the stories with loved ones, it’s a win-win to see the challenges that go on and how they overcome them,” Robinson says.

As far as the affects it has on the inmates, Robinson is convinced that there are no hard feelings.

“Prisoners take it two ways. Some would prefer to be outside, but you are not disconnected from the prisons. The event brings humanity in that they are sharing the loved ones with them, saying we trust you enough to bring the people we love most around you,” he says.

But no matter the justification, it is all about family to him.

The people I work with are my family and the people they are bringing are extended family, your sisters and nieces. You hear stories about them all year long and it is a chance to see them.”

Overall, he maintains that the event is “perfect as it is.”

The tour is winding down, the mountains are black against the setting sun, and with a final glance at a Diego Rivera mural in the dining hall, I start to take the final steps back out to freedom.

A single room remains on the prison side of the gates with a sign that reads “Parole Hearing.”  I stare turning my head as the first heavy door clangs shut behind me. I wonder how many times inmates stared at the double gates.  The idea of freedom so tangible, the outside world not even forty feet away.

But as I leave the prison behind me, there is one last place to visit, the air now crisp and chilly with nightfall.

The gas chamber. Painted in a bright green, the octangular room instantly stands out. Two chairs with straps dominate the space. Since 1937, dozens have sat in a similar room. This one is brand new. Currently there are more than twelve people waiting for execution, all their appeals have run dry. The soonest execution could be next year.

“Please keep arms and legs inside at all times,” someone jokes. “It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.”

Doctor Who’s Silver Anniversary

 

Doctor Who

 

In case you’ve been living under a rock and/or aren’t an anglophile, Doctor Who, the longest running science fiction TV show, recently hit its fiftieth anniversary, complete with a feature movie-length episode to celebrate.
Premiering for the first time November 23, 1963 on BBC, Doctor Who had seen, at the time of the series seven finale, eleven canonical Doctors and the appearance of a previously unmentioned Doctor. This mysterious Doctor, brain child of current show runner Steven Moffat, is central to the plot of “The Day of The Doctor”.
As a bit of background, Doctor Who is a story about the adventures of a time-traveling alien throughout time and space. How has the show kept up it’s longevity, considering the eventualities of death and other projects causing a revolving cast of main actors? Simple—via a process called “regeneration.” When the Doctor has reached the end of his life, either via old age or accident, he’s simply able to regenerate into a new body, with the same memories. It’s the gift of the Time Lords, the people from Gallifrey, where the Doctor originates. New actor, same character essentially, and the show moves forward.
After running continuously through seven Doctors, the show was canceled for several years, before a reboot was attempted in the form of a movie, introducing Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. The movie was badly received, but the show eventually saw new life in 2005, when Russell T. Davis stepped into the position of executive producer, with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. However, in between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors, events specified as the Time War, a battle fought between the Time Lords and the Daleks, taking millions of casualties and destroying numerous planets, occurred. By Davis’ canon, the Doctor ended the Time War by destroying his people, as well as the Daleks—an act that leaves immeasurable amounts of guilt on the shoulders of the 900-year-old alien at the reboot of the series.
Moffat takes advantage of the sketchy details surrounding not only the Time War, but also the lost period of time between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors. Thus enters John Hurt, as the War Doctor—a regeneration that the Doctor denies simply because of his actions. Never mind the fact that they are all the same person, the destruction of an entire race—not to mention their own race, makes for bad bloop between regenerations.
Through a series of events, Matt Smith, as the Eleventh Doctor, and Jenna Louise Coleman, as Clara Oswald, companion to the Doctor, are brought to London to solve a mysterious break in at UNIT’s headquarters. While this is happening, events are unfolding at the same time, albeit over 400 years earlier, in which the Doctor’s Tenth regeneration, played by David Tenant, is in the process of wooing Queen Elizabeth the First. Or rather, he’s wooing what he believes to be an alien impersonating the queen, a Zygon. While this is occurring, the War Doctor has broken into the forbidden vault of weapons on his home planet, stealing a weapon known as “The Moment”—a machine with the power to destroy an entire planet, intelligent enough that the interface has not only become sentient and developed a conscience, but it’s developed the ability to project a human form to communicate with the Doctor. In this case, the form taken is combination of the first companion to grace the TARDIS in NewWho, Rose Tyler. However, that’s only in physical form—the entity is technically the Bad Wolf, who was created when Rose absorbed the heart of the TARDIS to save the Doctor.
Confused yet? It only gets more complicated.
Soon enough, these three Doctors are brought together via time fissure, leaving the Tenth and Eleventh regenerations to face the version of themselves they’ve worked so hard to forget. Naturally, The Doctor is unaware as to why his future selves are so disgusted with him—for him, he has yet to trigger the moment, destroying his planet and leaving himself alone in the world.
During his stint as show runner, Davis was essential to breathing new life into the show but his method of bringing about the new story line, painting the Doctor as a lonely alien, protecting the planet he so dearly cares about, now that his home is gone, left a few holes open in he storyline. Naturally, Moffat exploited them and blew the canon wide open, as he is wont to do. And he does so in spectacular fashion, creating plot holes and wrapping them up neatly further on. After three seasons as show runner, Moffat has shown his appreciation for multi-arc story lines and lots of excitement, which he applies to the 50th anniversary episode, complete with an extra side of emotional manipulation and beautiful scenery and special effects.
During the entire production process, Moffat and the production team were especially tight-lipped about who would or wouldn’t be included in the anniversary. However, the absence of the Ninth Doctor, companions from the newest seasons, as well as the inclusion of the surviving Doctors were noticeable, bringing about initial criticism. In cameos pulled from video archives, all of the previous nine Doctors make an appearance at the penultimate point of the episode, with a bonus appearance by the recently cast Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. Moffat manages to work in a small bonus tribute, as well as paying homage to The Five Doctors, a previous Doctor Who special.
Despite the lack of previous companions and screen time for previous Doctors, Moffat creates a beautiful episode that lives up to 50 years of history, with references from the original serials, such as harkening back to the original title card sequences, crediting all the Doctors from William Hartnell all the way down to Matt Smith, including John Hurt. The episode, viewed by seventy-seven million people, is just one of many landmark moments adding to the canon and legend that is Doctor Who.

Bareback Behavior

Condoms are shown as not being utilized by some who's sex lives do not practice safe sex on purpose and choose to go Bareback. Amanda Peterson
Condoms are shown as not being utilized by some who’s sex lives do not practice safe sex on purpose and choose to go Bareback. Photo by Amanda Peterson / Xpress

Written by Jennifer Moreno
Photos by Amanda Peterson

No condoms. No fear. No regrets. That’s the motto Josh Landale, the thirty-year-old blogger behind Confessions of a Bareback Sauna Slut, lives by.

In the 1980s, men having unprotected sex with each other, or barebacking, was considered the surest way to contract HIV. Safe-sex and anti-AIDS campaigns were everywhere in response to HIV being spread through unprotected sex.

But now, barebacking is making a comeback. With hook up apps like Grindr and websites like BarebackRT.com, finding fellow barebackers is easier than ever.

For Landale, his enthusiasm all began when he was eighteen and fresh out of sixth form college (the British equivalent of graduating high school). He was finally coming to terms with his sexuality and ready to tell others he was gay. His libido was at its peak and the world was full of sexual possibilities.

Every hot guy could be a new encounter, an adventure, but condoms were getting in the way. During this time, he realized he was unable to achieve or maintain an erection once a condom was in the mix.

“I knew that as someone who liked to get fucked, I wasn’t happy with the sexual experience,” says Landale. “I somehow felt cheated, that the sex hadn’t been fulfilling or as rewarding as it might otherwise have been had condoms been forsaken.”

Of course, he was aware of the risks. Well sort of. He knew foregoing protection meant he was vulnerable to getting a myriad of STDs.  Some could be treated very easily, while others, like HIV/AIDS, were seen as the beginning of the end. He chose to bareback, but when he reached his early twenties, he decided to become educated about the risks.

All of this newfound knowledge filled him with self-doubt, leading to a decision between health or good sex.  At first he would practice sero-sorting (matching partners of the same HIV status together in a bid to reduce the risk of transmission) by sleeping only with those who said they were negative. But it didn’t always work. Many of his encounters participated in anonymous settings like bathhouses, dark barrooms, and public restrooms. Places where it was less talk and more action.

Every encounter left him worried, up until he got his most recent HIV results. The combination of early negative tests and risk-taking behavior, created a mild feeling of invincibility. He describes it as constantly winning round after round of Russian roulette. Except in his case, the barrel didn’t have five loaded chambers, but hundreds…maybe thousands.  But his luck ran out when years later he tested positive for HIV.

To better understand Landale’s thought process, it’s important to mention that he’s always been a bit of a risk taker. At sixteen, he was all about rock climbing and hang gliding. When he was twenty-one, he got a motorcycle and raced around the roads of Yorkshire with reckless abandon. Where most people saw danger and retreated from it, Landale was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. So the moment he discovered risky sexual behavior, it was an instant attraction.

“My desires and logic were at odds with one another,” Landale recalls. “A war raged in my mind. It took a good year or so to reconcile the risks with myself.”  His love for barebacking eventually won the war, and he hasn’t stopped since. And he’s just one of many making the exact same choice.

As Monica Lee, a health educator at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) puts it, “The reality is people are barebacking all day long.” According to a recent survey conducted by the Community Health Network, about 46.4% of the gay and bisexual men who use apps like Grindr said, they always bareback. However, amidst all of the reveling, there are others concerned about this surge in popularity.  And the worrying isn’t unwarranted. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 men who had sex with other men (MSM) accounted for sixty-three percent of new HIV infections in the U.S.  Between 2008 and 2010, there was a twelve percent increase in new HIV infections among MSM. However, it isn’t just HIV that’s increasing. A 2011 CDC report found that syphilis rates among gay and bisexual men has increased and accounts for over seventy percent of all syphilis infections.

It’s Saturday night and Robi Bucayu is getting ready to go out. Is the top he’s wearing showing enough skin? Check. Is his hair perfectly in place? Check. Is he ready to do some community outreach to promote safe sex? Quadruple check. Just one check wouldn’t suffice to capture Bucayu’s enthusiasm for his job.

Bucayu, a gay twenty-two-year-old Stanford grad, works part-time at the SFDPH as a Community Field Specialist for the Community Health Equity and Promotion program. The program was created to address the needs and problems facing gay and bisexual men in the Castro and SoMa districts. His responsibilities include sometimes going out on the weekends to do outreach work at popular gay bars, clubs, and one time a sex party. This particular party was a CumUnion party, and for Bucayu it was an eye-opening experience. CumUnion is an international sex party that advocates a pro-choice philosophy. It doesn’t matter whether you are HIV positive or negative as long as you are honest and everything is consensual. Only one rule; no drugs.  Condoms are available along with on-site STD testing but everything, including barebacking, is allowed. Bucayu and his coworkers’ job was to inform men walking in that they offer free STD testing.

“Most of the men we talked to at that party assumed that when we said testing we meant HIV testing,” says Bucayu. “So they just said, ‘Oh, it’s too late for me honey,’ and kept on walking.

Scott Morris, one of the co-founders of CumUnion, tells a very different story. He states the amount of guests getting tested has increased substantially over the years, because CumUnion talks about testing in a fun, friendly, and sexy way. Morris feels this approach opens up the conversation for people to disclose their status without fear or judgment.

“Most people already know their HIV status, but they don’t know about their status for other STDS like chlamydia,” says Morris. “They’ll be like, ‘What is Chlamydia? Is that a girl disease?’ ”

Morris also says that he sees more people using condoms at CumUnion parties than at parties where barebacking isn’t allowed. Despite the misconception that only young men are the ones barebacking, Bucayu states most of the men he saw at the party were older and looked like they were in their fifties.

While some bareback for just the pleasure, others do it to make a statement. “There are some gay men who are just sick of the stigma surrounding HIV and the pro-condom agenda that was everywhere during the AIDS epidemic in the Eighties,” remarks Bucayu. “They want to live on their own terms.”

Although CumUnion encourages open communication, Lee states it’s common for people to attend the sex parties without disclosing their status.  However, Bucayu says guests know going in that the possibility of getting HIV is part of the territory. For some that might even be the goal.

According to Nick Lionberger, a local glassblower who doesn’t bareback, there is a rumor about “bug chasing”—the slang term used when some men engage in unprotected sex with HIV positive men in the hope of getting infected. “It’s considered the ultimate rebellious thing to do,” explains Lionberger.

Landale states a common misconception is that all barebackers are bug chasers. In reality, only a minority participates in the practice.

In spite of all of the risks at these events, Lee says you are far more likely to get HIV or STDs from someone you know that hasn’t been tested than at a sex party.

Even in gay porn, the condoms are coming off. Barebacking in gay porn used to be a rare thing, but over time some big studios like Sean Cody have changed their tune due to the popularity of the videos. Mitch Mason, the director of marketing and customer engagement at the first, self-proclaimed bareback porn company Treasure Island Media, thinks the recent change of heart by those who previously were against barebacking “leaves one to question their motives and ethical integrity.”

The controversial Treasure Island Media is infamous in the industry for not testing their performers for HIV and touting HIV positive performers in some of their videos. The way Mason sees it though, those who bareback are crusaders in the fight to protect the integrity of sexuality and Treasure Island Media is just helping the cause. “There is meaning in the complexity of sexual behavior that goes deeper than pleasure and certainly far deeper than pornography’s commodification or public health’s reductive dicta,” says Mason.

One often overlooked aspect of the debate is the precautions some barebackers partake in like regular STD testing and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). According to Bucayu, PrEp is a medication used by people who are HIV negative and are at very high risk to get infected, to help decrease their possibility of contracting HIV. While it is an effective medication, Bucayu states it shouldn’t be the only thing people do to protect themselves from HIV.

For barebackers who are HIV positive like Landale, they get viral-load tests, which detect the amount of HIV in one’s blood. Landale states his viral load is undetectable—forty-t0-seventy copies in a blood sample—so he can’t transmit HIV to anyone else. “So rather than jumping to conclusions and pointing the finger at me (or others like me) saying that we are disgusting and spreading the virus, they should take a look closer to home,” Landale asserts. “To those people who haven’t been tested, or don’t get tested regularly. Those people, who say they practice safer sex, yet under the influence, forget to use the condoms.  It is these people who are spreading HIV and fueling the current epidemic.”

And Landale is right about viral loads, to an extent. According to AIDS.gov, having undetectable viral loads does greatly decrease the risk of transmission, but it isn’t one hundred percent certain you can’t infect someone.

This is typical subject matter for Landale’s blog as nothing is off limits. He has the special honor of owning the longest running bareback blog on the internet and wears it like a gold medal. Starting in 2006, it was like a diary to document his wild youth. A place for Landale to share the places he was visiting and his sexual escapades.

He never expected anyone to read it or for it to become so popular. According to Landale, his blog gets around twenty thousand unique visitors a week. Along with reading, visitors can watch a short video clips or gander at pictures that accompany some of the posts, to get the full experience. “I’ve written about about my HIV status, the ways to clean one’s ass out in preparation for being fucked, legal issues surrounding bareback sex, and the legality of disclosing your HIV status,” says Landale. “It’s something that is designed to make you laugh, cry, ponder, and just to entertain.”

Landale feels great responsibility in his role as a barebacking authority. In his own words, he describes himself as a “genuine blogger” that has maintained his integrity and stayed true to himself. In the future, he hopes to continue sharing his adventures and break down the stigma surrounding barebacking: one blog post at a time.

Lulu: Whether You Like It or Not

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Written by Rhys Robinson
Photo by Philip Houston

Let’s be honest for a moment, fellas. At one point or another, we’ve all been stood up. Maybe the smoking hot blonde you chatted up in history class bailed on you at the last-minute. Or the Latin cutie you danced the night away with never returned your calls.

The reasons behind these tragic tales of puppy-dog-heartbreak vary. But what if I told you that one of the reasons you’re striking out could be due to your reputation on Lulu. What is Lulu you ask?

Lulu is a new female-friendly and controversial mobile app that allows women to anonymously rate their male Facebook friends on a number of attributes, including their appearance and sexual prowess.

Synched via Facebook, a man’s appearance on Lulu is completely involuntary. Women can log in and declare whether they were in a relationship with the man, a hook-up, a crush or just a friend. Thereafter, they rate the guy’s humor, attractiveness, ability to commit, manners and ambition on a scale from one to ten. The ratings are averaged out to produce an overall score that appears below the man’s profile photo.

In addition, women can apply a number of hash tags on a man’s profile to paint a more descriptive picture. Such hashtags include #Big.Feet #WeirdDirtyTalk, #ChangesSheetsRegularly, #LovesLoveActually, #BragsAboutAlcoholConsumption, #F—-dMeAndChuckedMe, #WouldVoteForAFemalePresident and #TotalF—ingDickhead.

“I think some of those hashtags are pretty hurtful,” says San Francisco resident Sander Idelson. “I for one would not like to be called a total fucking dickhead.”

Co-founder and CEO Alexandra Chong created the app to give women a safe zone to conduct extensive girl talk. Launched on Android and iOS in June of 2012, the app has been quite successful, as over 80 million profiles have been reviewed since mid-January.

To the guys receiving positive reviews, the app’s emergence has been a pleasant experience.

“I would be really excited to see what an ex would have to say about me,” says San Francisco State student Ryan Kinlock. ”Even if the review was negative, I think it is an easy thing to blow off.”

Additionally, some women are thrilled to have an app that provides insight on prospective boyfriends. The ability to see what their fellow sistren have said is a somewhat useful (even if unreliable) dating tool.

“I like the app because I think it empowers women,” says Elyse Guzman, an Otis College student. “It allows them to be in control of what rank these guys fall in. To be honest, it’s nice watching guys squirm over what their ratings are.”

On the other hand, some women are a bit turned off to the idea, classifying the app as creepy and classless. Whereas some men are none too happy about the creation of a potential social-media monster.

“I find it to be an unreasonable invasion of privacy and trust within a relationship,” says San Francisco State student Ryan Thorp. “If an ex rated me I’d be nervous, because I don’t believe all users would be impartial and fair. I find the whole idea to be crass.”

Conversely, other men don’t care about the potential threat Lulu imposes on their dating reputation, viewing the app as just a silly gadget girls use for gossip.

“It’s a good way for girls to blow off steam,” says Kinlock. “I’m not sure how helpful it is for girls to compare guys to one another but I thought it was a good way for them to vent.”

Earlier this year, Chong was quoted in the Huffington Post saying, “Should a guy not do well in a particular category, then they can change their behavior.” However, guys are unable to view their profile, as Lulu processes their gender status through Facebook and blocks them if they’re not female. Therefore, even if a guy grades out poorly in a category, he’s unable to find out unless he lurks from a female friend’s account.

Some men and women alike believe Lulu users are employing a double standard, as the app is blatantly sexist during an era when such sexism would be frowned upon if the app were targeted toward male users.

For instance, if a man’s version of Lulu was developed that included such hashtags as #Waxed, #OnlyWearsGrannyPanties and #DoesntGiveBJs, what would the public reaction be?

“It would scream misogyny,” says Idelson. “But the difference between men and women is that when men hear something misogynistic, they typically shrug it off.  Whereas women start a feminist movement to publicly shame the offender.”

On top of that, some believe Lulu is inherently flawed as the users are naturally biased. If a woman had a pleasant relationship with an ex-boyfriend, would she really take time out of her day to boost his stock with a glowing Lulu review?

“Posts are anonymous,” says SF State graduate Ariel Urlik. “It is tempting to see what other people are saying about you. It can either be an ego boost or a blow. But again take it all with a grain of salt. Remember these ratings can be written in a moment of anger or passion.”

If a relationship is successful, then there isn’t much incentive for a woman to provide positive feedback. As such, reviewers are mostly limited to those engaged in a platonic relationship, hookups, or bitter ex-girlfriends with a vengeful agenda.

Furthermore, according to the app’s terms and conditions, men who don’t want to have a profile on Lulu must send in an email with their Facebook username attached demanding to be deleted.

Subsequently, any man whose name has been publicly defamed must go through an annoying process to eradicate himself from a mess he did nothing to get himself into.

Design and Refine

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Written Melissa Landeros
Photos by John Ornelas

Bright lighting. Hues of earth tones. Pops of color. A mix of sleek jackets, tailored dresses, intricate outerwear, and fine accessories.  At five thousand square feet, the 440 Brannan studio and showroom is a combined workspace and shopping oasis comprising the ultimate wardrobe selection for all city slickers.

This thriving showroom, equipped with sewing machines, worktables, and a trendy atmosphere, lives up to their slogan of “wear something rare,” because that is exactly what it offers.

Garments are made directly in the showroom and once completed are put out on the floor for purchase. Clients can even stop in and see their

One of the designers working on her garment at the co-op, 440 Brannan Studio. Photo by John Ornelas / Xpress
One of the designers working on her garment at the co-op, 440 Brannan Studio. Photo by John Ornelas / Xpress

garment-to-be right on the cutting table during the creating process.  The showroom sets the stage for up-and-coming Bay Area designers to really show their gusto for fashion design.

Since 1996 owner Rodger Alan has kept 440 Brannan up and running.  His studio was not always a place where designers could produce their garments, but Alan says he “decided to share.”  He brought about the idea of allowing people to rent space and produce what they wanted.

Aside from Alan opening up his space to designers he also has opened it up to students. “You don’t just sweep up the floor when you work here, I actually teach you, and you learn shit,” Alan says. Many of the students working at the studio get hands on experience, and can create their own pieces as well.

Megan Jee, an SF State merchandising student, manages the studio and interns. She oversees the selection process of prospective designers and helps host the studios weekly fashion happy hour on Fridays from four forty to eight o’clock. Since not everyone is a designer and has the opportunity to create something, customers can go into the studio and browse the unique collections while sipping on free wine or beer. “What I really like about this studio is that you are free to create whatever you want,” Jee says.

Former SF State student Marco Ruiz is a current designer and says he really enjoys working at the studio, and appreciates the equipment Allan makes available. Ruiz also says that working at 440 Brannan has provided him with more experience and the opportunity to expand his brand in the future.

Alan says this is a place where, “you make things to sell.” His studio usually incorporates five to eight designers. However, there is a process individuals need to go through before they can rent a space.

One thing that Alan focuses on is whether or not prospective designers produce garments that will portray a similar street style that his studio embodies. The clean-cut urbanite that could take their looks from evening to night is the perfect candidate.  “Someone who makes wedding dresses would not work well in the studio,” Alan says.

Consistently featured menswear designers include Alan’s line Hieros, which is made of limited edition pieces and streetwise menswear. Alan’s esthetic is simple, he says, “If I want to make a cropped jacket, I make it.” Alan designs whatever he feels like creating, and he makes it in his size first. If one of his designs is in high demand he’ll make more.  If not, Alan keeps it for himself.

Women’s wear is also featured alongside the menswear designs.  Gordano is a modern unique clothing line created by Jill Giordano and Brian Scheyer that is inspired by architecture. Their designs include tops, dresses, and bottoms that can easily be converted from day to night.

Quality is important to Alan.  Thats what 440 Brannan is all about, a quality garment, made by quality designers in a space where maximum creativity is encouraged.

Deck The Malls

Edward Dahl stands in the center of the forty-foot-tall Barrango Christmas tree he and his team set up in Stonestown Galleria for the holiday. Photo by Kate O'Neal / Xpress
Edward Dahl stands in the center of the forty-foot-tall Barrango Christmas tree he and his team set up in Stonestown Galleria for the holiday. Photo by Kate O’Neal / Xpress

Written by Macy Williams
Photos by Kate O’Neal

Late at night, hours after shoppers have swiped their credit cards at Stonestown Galleria, a man and his team are hard at work transforming the mall into one of the most festive locations in San Francisco.

The story usually goes, “Twas the night before Christmas.” What most city dwellers do not realize is, most of the magic happens long before that night—just ask Edward Dahl, owner of visual communications company, After Science.

“I pride myself on the details,” says Dahl, who has set up the towering forty-foot-tall Barrango tree in Stonestown fifteen times now. He has also decked the halls of Ghirardelli Square, Capitola, Carmel and Serrano shopping centers.

Opening the secret trap door to the massive tree and entering the hollow center filled with efficient LED lights, Dahl looks over his work with pride.

“These branches are twenty years old,” he says. “We are different from other companies. Instead of just yanking the branches out of the packaging and throwing them up there, we touch up and fluff each and every piece.”

The process of decorating shopping centers is not an easy one. Dahl and his team work through the night over the course of five days. What makes the process all the more enjoyable for Dahl?  After Science is a family affair.

“Our kids have worked with us since they were little,” says Dahl’s wife, Rebecca Womble. “It is amazing that we can work together and get along so well.”

Womble couldn’t be more proud of how well her children Taylor, Morgan, and Gabe, work in their father’s environment.

“We all know what we are good at, we all have our own thing,” she says. “We never have to micromanage.”

When he’s not dressing San Francisco in Christmas charm, Dahl is also a teacher at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, where he gives opportunities to newly graduated students to participate in the decorating.

“When I started teaching, I was scared as shit,” he says. “The head of the department asked me if I could teach a visual communications class and I was terrified.”

Once Dahl began, he realized that teaching was his calling. As he is speaking of his students, a pupil texts him at ten ‘o’ clock regarding a homework question. Dahl gives his students 24/7 access to ask him anything pertaining to their studies.

“Teaching is my spark of life,” he says. “I trust my students and I treat them like equals. I just know more things because I have been doing this for longer. Most of those kids have more talent than me.”

There’s a reason why Dahl’s students continue to work with him after graduation. Joanna Andreoni, a FIDM visual communications graduate, has the utmost respect for Dahl.

“Ed doesn’t do anything by the book,” she says. “He’s an incredible mentor…and he’s really crazy, in a good way.”

Dahl has been working in visual communications and merchandising for over twenty years now, creating everything from holiday installations for Emporium Capwell to runway shows for local fashion designer Ilanio. Dahl’s talent comes from experience; he never attended any formal design school.

When asked what he does in his spare time, Dahl laughs. “I’m doing this,” he says as he gestures to the hustle and bustle of the holiday installation behind him. “I have to be constantly creating or I will combust.”