Exploring the Science of Skateboarding

Through the entrance, past a myriad of experiments and underneath a skylight appearing to be a hole in the ceiling sits, a crowd of children and their parents packed together on small bleachers. They are here to watch the experienced skateboarders fly around the volunteer-built obstacles.

A section of floor is separated by barriers, like those police use to block streets when there is a parade. Inside that thirty-by-one hundred foot space a number of ramps are set up to allow the skaters to gain speed and provide the crowd with marvels of physics. To announce their maneuvers and the forces acting upon them are Paul Doherty and Steve Gennrich.

Inside the space two wooden quarter-pipes built by middle school students sit facing each other with various objects to skate in between. There are three small ramps, a skate box, a wet-floor sign to jump over, and barriers pushed together and anchored to one of the ramps.

[pullquote author=”Paul Doherty”]“Skateboarders are like astronauts! Our job is to inspire students to learn science, and if we do it through their passionate interest in skateboarding, that is great!” said Doherty.”[/pullquote]

Doherty is the Exploratorium’s Senior Scientist and an SF State adjunct professor. He wears his blond hair pulled back in a ponytail and glasses perched upon his nose. Steve Gennrich is a project manager and exhibit developer for the Exploratorium. Doherty describes Gennrich as an “avid skateboarder.”

“Skateboarders are like astronauts!” proclaims Doherty. He also relates some of their actions to that of cats. “Much like a cat, the skateboarder uses his upper body to direct the lower part.” Doherty explains to the audience how skateboarders are able to pull off tricks that look impossible.

Some of the Exploratorium’s staff feels a kinship with the skaters. “There are artists, builders, engineers, and scientists that work here. We go through the same process as skateboarders. We have to be creative and open-minded. We have to look at a bench and see it in a way that’s never been done before,” said Gennrich. “Skateboarders do the same thing, they think ‘how can I use this in a way that it hasn’t ever been used before.’”

Behind the bleachers and next to the snack bar, part of the exhibit includes a cluster of displays set up to educate visitors on the various aspects of skateboarding. One includes an experiment to test the impact of your jump. You stand on the platform and jump, once you land your impact is measured and displayed on an LED screen. Another shows how the hardness of the wheel is related to the friction with ground.

The Exploratorium held a similar exhibit twelve years ago. At that time they created a website explaining the science of skating and a demo area. On June 12, 1999 the Exploratorium hosted the first event of this kind called The Science of Skateboarding.

They streamed the demonstration live from their website. The ground-breaking event featured skaters Dustin Dollin, Matt Fields, Wade Speyer, Mikey Reyes and others.

“After the event and website I received many emails from parents thanking me for inspiring their children to do a science fair exploration of some aspect of the physics of their skateboards,” exclaims Doherty. “The parents indicated that their children were asking the science teachers at school to explain the science of skateboards. Luckily I work with teachers and when they ask me I provide them the answers for their students.”

This year on April 8th through the 10th various skate shops provided riders for the demonstrations. On Friday night the DLX team skated the obstacles, including many built by the FUELTV show, Built to Shred.

Built to Shred created a teeter-totter skate box and a pendulum manual pad. Their creations were for an episode of the first night with DLX riders from Real, Anti Hero, and Spitfire. The professional skaters included Dennis Busenitz, Peter Ramondetta, Elissa Steamer, Frank Gerwer, and more.

After the first night the Built to Shred obstacles were gone and ramps remained for the FTC and Mission skate shop riders to demonstrate their skills. The rest of the skate-able items were built by youth volunteers contacted through Mission Skateboards and the Exploratorium staff. “We build all our own stuff,” said Gennrich. The Exploratorium’s exhibit builders pre-cut the wood and had the dimensions already figured out. The adults held the pieces together while the volunteers operated the power drills and hammers.

“Our job is to inspire students to learn science, and if we do it through their passionate interest in skateboarding, that is great!” said Doherty.
This year they decided to bring the web page up-to-date and provide a history of the progression of style in the sport, including a break-down of the science behind the maneuvers. There are also some photographs and videos on the website.

“It was a huge amount of work by many people. Steve Gennrich ran the project and got little sleep for days coordinating everything, Built to Shred and Mission Skate came into the exploratorium and built the skate park for us,” says Doherty.

In the 2013 the Exploratorium will be relocating to piers 15 and 17. “Right now we are easier to get to from Marin than we are from San Francisco,” said Gennrich. “We will be moving to a place that is skateboard heavy. But, an environment where the architects have done everything they can to prevent skating in the area.”

The new location will be nine acres and offer space for exhibits inside and out. “Right now we are grappling with the idea of what the skateboarding exhibit is going to be. Is it a public program? Will it be permanent? We know it will be exhibits to help everyone learn more,” said Gennrich.

“The Exploratorium unleashed a bold revolution when it opened in 1969, leaving both classrooms and the museum field changed forever. It was the first place that visitors could play with science and art, to see, hear, smell and feel the world around them. It inspired similar institutions around the globe and became — as it has been acknowledged by its peers — the leader in the science center movement globally and the best science museum in the world,“ said Dr. Dennis Bartels, Executive Director of the Exploratorium in their press release about the groundbreaking for the move. It is also stated that two of the acres will be public open space.
The new building will feature a way to capture rain runoff for use in the septic system of the new location and solar panels on the roof will cover 100% of the expected power use.
Next time you see a skateboarder fly down a hill or bust a tre-flip, remember the physics behind it requires them to posses the skills of cats and astronauts as well as an open mind. Instead of being angry that they are board sliding a ledge by your house, enjoy their ability to look at boring architecture and create a combination of art and science that is all their own.

Life on Octavia Boulevard

It is the spring semester of 2010 at SF State. As the clock ticks ten minutes past 2 p.m. all the journalism students that are on time grab a seat in the computer lab room on the third floor of the Humanities building, waiting for Professor Yvonne Daley to come in and start the reporting class. At the far end of the classroom, some students are busy on the computers, typing last minute edits on their articles, others wait patiently, ready for the professor. Daley always enters with a stack of papers and a smile. Her colorful ensembles give a hint of her waggish personality and amusing way of telling stories. She never forgets to advise her class, week after week, that to report is to carefully observe everything that is going on in the neighborhood. Talking to the homeless man that walks down the street every day is just as informative as interviewing a city supervisor. She often uses the book she is working on as an example of how reaching out to her surroundings has sparked stories and conversations with characters she has come to know. She is calling her book Octavia Boulevard, after the street of the same name in San Francisco.

A year later, Octavia Boulevard sits on the shelves at Dog Eared Books on Valencia Street. The memoir is a composition of characters living in and around her home on the boulevard. As she tells their stories, she scratches the surface on some of San Francisco’s largest issues, such as homelessness. Daley explores how a city so vibrant can hold a dark side as well. As a professor, she has mentored many aspiring journalists with her witty remarks and influential personality. As a writer, it is compelling what about Octavia Boulevard influenced Daley to write a book.

I enter her office located on the third floor of the Humanities building. This time not as a student checking my progress or a grade, but as a journalist writing a brief on her new book. She welcomes me with a smile, as always, and recommends to place a pillow before I sink into her colorful couch. I take my recorder out, along with my notebook and pen, making sure to remember all the advice she gave me when I would sit in front of her reporting class. “My forehead is burnt,” Daley mentions and smiles, as she pats it down with the palm of her hand. The weather had been sunny for those couple of days and Daley made sure to enjoy every bit of it in the city.

“When I first started writing Octavia Boulevard, it was in two different kinds of writing. One was emails back home to my husband, who lives in Vermont,” Daley pauses. “And the other one was more journalistic or narrative about the neighborhood and the various things I was observing.” After sharing some of the material she was writing to the women in her writing group, they convinced her to become part of the story, mixing her observations with the journalistic aspect of what she had written. For journalists, the first rule is to be objective (whatever that is) and to not include personal responses. But in this case, Daley realized a need to include her thoughts on persons shooting up outside her building and the disparity between so much money in a city where the very wealthy live among the very poor, and the middle class seems to be disappearing. “Once I started doing that, I could really see that that was the way to tell this story,” says Daley.

[pullquote author=”Yvonne Daley, Author”]”You know, as a journalist, you have this much room, to tell this story, for this format, and there is all this stuff that you can’t tell, along with your own response to the story.”[/pullquote]

Becoming the narrator also served as a way to address other issues Daley felt important, such as the successes and failures of the counterculture; her generation. “I feel that we blew up,” she slightly giggles. “…our parents notions of propriety and asked for a lot of freedoms and got them, but two things happened. One is that a lot of people gave up the battle and the second is this thing called unintended consequences,” she slightly giggles again. “Such as when you close down institutions with four people with mental illness or drug addiction and you do not create some system to take the place of that institution, you end up with people on the streets who can’t take care of themselves.”

Octavia Boulevard does not only serve as the setting of the book. Daley believes this boulevard is also a nest for both the prominences and failures of San Francisco. It houses the social issues of poverty, social economic status, class and privilege and sets them on the streets for everyone to see, while only a few observe the harsh living consequences. “The boulevard itself came to me to be a symbol of how creative San Francisco is [and] how progressive it is that it did not rebuild an ugly freeway through the city, that it tried to create something beautiful, but that didn’t solve its problems,” she says. As she moves her white straight hair aside, she lists the current issues heavily seen on the boulevard. “The freeway isn’t functional for cars, there’s still homeless sleeping on the corner, and a lot of people lost their housing because it became more expensive to live there once it was fixed up. You know, so what’ve you solved?”

From Vermont and living in San Francisco for a number of years, Daley finds herself in love with the city, but at the same time, is repelled by it. “I adore Vermont and I adore San Francisco, but neither one is ideal for me.” While the lifestyle in Vermont can be rather boring compared to all the side-splitting of San Francisco, Daley stands very critical when it comes to observing the people, such as families, artists, musicians and students, who have been forced to move out of the city, due to gentrification or the high priced living. “Year after year I see people graduate, and they love the city, but they can’t get a job,and they leave. You’re only going to live two to three people in a room for so long,” she says, giving me a gleaming stare, then laughs. “On the other hand, I go to the opera, I go to the ballet,” she says as her eyes widen. “How many cities the size of San Francisco still support other museums in the city? I don’t have that opportunity in Vermont, that’s for sure.”

In class, I remember Daley talking about how journalism was pretty much invented for her. Her natural instinct of being nosy, observing and remembering every detail of a place, then descriptively writing everything she saw has made her work an example of what journalism can be when it is less bombarded with information and facts, and more about painting a scene. Writing a story where the reader can visualize the place, smell the surroundings, feel what the character is feeling, can serve as a descriptive bridge to the larger issue being reported. For Octavia Boulevard, Daley structured the reporting and research as a support for the narrative story of the characters, each picked for a specific reason. “You know, as a journalist, you have this much room, to tell this story, for this format,” she explains. “And there is all this stuff that you can’t tell, along with your own response to the story. Well, these were people who I fell in love with and I worried about when I was in Vermont.” Daley admits writing the book the way she did met her frustration she has always felt as a journalist, by stepping away from framing the story and actually telling a story of people who represent a larger group of San Francisco residents. “Mae West is a vestige of the past San Francisco,” says Daley. “She [with the African American Hebrew Cultural Center] are those blacks that had a strong identity here and have very little of it left.” Daley also uses her landlord as a representation of the many other landlords who hold the lives of many people and take it rather lightly.

It’s a Wednesday evening as I make my way into the Poetry Center where Daley will host her book signing at SF State. In a casual pace, students, friends, older friends and colleagues find a chair and wait for the writer. She enters with the one and only, Daniel Daley, her adorable white dog, making her way to the long table in the front of the room. As she welcomes everyone and talks a little about her book, Daley picks up her copy of Octavia Boulevard and recites a chapter, reading out loud the stories of the people of San Francisco.

Can’t Miss Film Festival Comes To Town

Around one hundred journalists gather at the prestigious Alexandra room on the 32nd floor of the Westin Hotel. Men and women dressed in business attire talk excitedly as they pour coffee before settling into a chair for the press conference. The energy in the air might make one think this crowded event is the Oscar awards unraveling. It is not. All the commotion is for a much-anticipated event, the 54th International Film Festival that ran from April 21 through May 5.

This distinguished festival took place at theatres throughout San Francisco including The Castro Theatre and Kabuki Sundance Cinemas. Nearly 200 films produced from more than forty countries were shown at theatres across San Francisco. The films were grouped into categories that included a documentary section showcasing first-and-second time directors; world cinema that focused on international directors; documentaries that delivered nonfiction pieces on people, places, issues and ideas; the late show that featured thrilling films; and the shorts program that presented multiple genres.

Opening night, Thursday April 21st, showcased a phenomenal film, Beginners shown at the Castro Theatre. Beginners stars Ewan McGregor, a graphic artist that finds himself in a new relationship. His 75-year-old father, who has recently come out of the closet and is battling cancer, imparts life lessons down to his unlucky in love son that will not be forgotten.

Another awesome event the Film Festival offered this year is the salons, where viewers can meet with directors and scholars to discuss the films in an intimate environment where more in-depth conversations can be held. Sunday May 1 offered a salon to discuss “Expressions of French Cinema” hosted by author and former Yale professor Susan Weiner. This salon discussed Children of the Princess Cleves, a documentary on a high school class in Marseille studying classic literature, I’m Glad My Mother Is Alive, the story of Nathan, who has led a troubled life and as an adult seeks out his birth mother, and The Place In Between, a story of a young biracial French woman traveling to Burkina Faso to find her birth mother.

In addition to salons, master classes were offered where guests engaged with festival insiders and conversed on detailed cinema discourse that went steps further than they typical question and answer session. A great salon for film aficionados and emerging writers took place on Friday, April 29. This salon, “Frank Pierson: A Writer’s Life” was hosted at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, and discussed the craft of screenwriting. Pierson, a legendary screenwriter, was presented this year’s Kanabar Award for excellence in screenwriting.

To get in on the action, check out sf360.org. This online site funded by the San Francisco Film Society contains numerous feature stories, a filmmaking manual, and deadlines. It not only serves as an online magazine for filmmakers and fans, but it is also a great resource to find festival showings and events.

Dealing With Distracting Classmates

Sarah Abott sprints up the stairs, coffee in hand, rushing to make class on time. The tall brunette slithers into her desk with minutes to spare. “Ahh,” she lets out a deep sigh of relief. She takes out her notebook and pen, ready to cling to every word that comes out of her professor’s mouth for the next fifty minutes of uninterrupted learning bliss. Or so she thinks.
Immersed in the lecture, Abbott hears strange noises and turns around to see where the unwelcome sounds are coming from. The twenty-two-year-old cannot believe her eyes. A fellow classmate is shaking both legs and tapping her fingers in a futile attempt to stay awake, causing Abbott’s entire row to convulse so much that she can no longer pay attention to anything but her disruptive classmate.
For some students, it takes a lot of concentration and willpower just to focus on a long and arduous lecture in the first place. Add distracting classmates into the mix, and paying attention becomes much harder. According to Fuzzy Brain? Improve Your Attention Span published on cnn.com, “Concentration occurs when the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, which controls high-level cognitive tasks, is awash with the right cocktail of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other body chemicals, particularly the pleasure chemical dopamine.”
The article goes on to explain that when you lose attention, your dopamine levels drop, prompting you to find a distraction, which is not too hard in most classrooms. Many students these days casually text in class, watch videos online, and talk amongst each other, as well as other inappropriate and distracting behaviors. These actions not only affect the students doing them, but also their classmates around them.
Many SF State students like Abbott have had enough. “It was the most distracting anyone has ever been in class,” says Abbott. “I looked at her in a mean way a couple of times and she didn’t get it. She started falling asleep and nodding off and coming back, then falling asleep again. I had to tell her to stop, and it came out really mean. I felt really bad.”
Sociology major Hunter Ridenour says he has seen an increase in students bringing their laptops to class and watching videos on YouTube or playing games on their iPhones such as “Angry Birds.” “I don’t even understand why students come to class if they are just going to watch videos on their laptops,” he laments. “But I know they usually come because of mandatory attendance.”
The twenty-two-year-old says he gets extremely distracted by this because he always wants to take a peek at what his classmates are watching, and this takes him away from the lecture at hand. According to Ridenour, his professor, Dr. Carrington banned laptops from class for this reason.
“I was so happy when Dr. Carrington told the class that laptops weren’t allowed,” says Ridenour. “I think that was really a great idea, and it really helped me pay attention in the class.”
According to Dr. Carrington, there is no place for laptops or iPhones in his classroom or any classroom for that matter. What students don’t realize is that their iPhone or laptop use does not only distract them, but it also distracts professors as well. Dr. Carrington says that when he sees a student on his phone it takes him away from the course material, and this happens with other professors as well.
“In my experience,” Carrington continues, “professors who care deeply about student comprehension, and who also care about creating equitable learning environments, they think very carefully about the use of laptops and iPhones in classrooms and have clear policies about their use. Of course, there are learning tasks, course subjects, and entire courses where these devices are perfectly suited, but I suspect these are the exception, not the norm.”
Dr. Carrington’s policy may seem harsh, but he knows what really happens when a student pulls out their flashy new phone. “Because humans are phototropic, laptops and iPhones draw the eyes, energy, and attention of anyone near a light source,” he explains.  “If someone next to you opens a laptop, the image draws your attention, and draws one away from the lecture, film, discussion, et cetera.”
It isn’t always technology that is to blame. Junior Karanbir ‘Kiki’ Deol says he gets distracted the most by students giggling and chit-chatting in class. Although he claims this does not make him angry, he says it is frustrating when he is interrupted during a really important lecture where he cannot miss any information. Even more, he feels telling the mouthy students to be quiet will do more harm than good. “It wastes more time to tell them to shut up. I’ve seen other students tell students to be quiet and they will say, ‘Oh, sorry,’ but they’ll just keep talking anyway.”
Unfortunately, some students may never learn. Even with a ban on technology in the classroom, bored students will revert to what they did in their elementary school days. After all, students will always have the ability and urge to talk, gossip, and laugh during long classes. Even though it is impossible to control others, there is hope for students sick and tired of being distracted in class.
According to Fuzzy Brain? Improve Your Attention Span, “All of us can feel distracted when we’re at the mercy of internal factors, like fatigue, stress, and anger.” A way to ensure you will be at your best in class to fight off distracting classmates is to get enough rest the night before so your sleep deprivation doesn’t thwart your attention span. Bringing a healthy snack to class will also help you focus, as it will maintain balanced blood-sugar levels.
There is always an upside to distracting classmates though—funny stories to tell your roommates or co-workers. “How distracted I get depends on the conversation behind me. If it is kind of scandalous,” laughs Deol. “I’ll be like, oh this is interesting, I’m going to listen to this.”

Giant Increases In Revenue

Mayhem, traffic jams, shoving crowds, stinking sweaty pits, and overdoses of adrenaline mixed with alcohol polluted the air on November 1, 2010. Floods of men, women, and children decked out in orange and black ravished the city streets screaming, crying, and hugging. Frightened tourists visiting San Francisco were stunned. Had a terrorist attack occurred? In their panic, they struggled to make sense of so many grandiose displays of emotion. The reason behind the craziness was soon unveiled—the San Francisco Giants had won the World Series championship. History was made on that balmy November night in the city by the bay.

Forever 2010 will be the year of the Giants. Their dynamite season last year brought old and new fans alike together to cheer and celebrate after numerous wins and the big championship game that turned the city of San Francisco into one big party, and soon it seemed that every San Francisco resident was a supporter of the “fear the beard” cause. Long-time Giants supporters from SF State are ready to get the ball rolling on the 2011 season, but, the surge in “bandwagon fans”, and inflating ticket prices, is causing many to strike out.

Twenty-three-year-old Brandon Uchi quietly eats lunch alone in Cesar Chavez student center. The broadcasting major, tired from a full day of classes, immediately perks up to discuss his favorite team. Uchi’s brown eyes sparkle as he explains that he has been a Giants enthusiast since he was born and that he will be one until he dies, adding with vengeance his distaste for the Bay Area team’s rival the Los Angeles Dodgers. His pride runs so deep for his favorite team that he even refuses to wear the color blue. However, as much as Uchi loves his favorite team, its success has brought along wishy-washy fans he could live without.

“I fucking hate the bandwagon fans so much,” Uchi says. “I guess it’s cool that there are so many Giants fans now, but it kind of annoys me that I’ve been there from the start and a lot of people have. Then people come and crash the party. They will come back once the hype starts again.”

Wearing an orange Giants jersey, Mary Kate Nicholson dashes off to catch MUNI, bursting with excitement to watch the Giants take on the Dodgers. Nicholson says she has been a follower of the team since she was about ten-years-old when she started watching baseball with her father. Nicholson’s father, born and raised in Daly City, passed down his love for the team to her. Even though she was raised in Southern California and her mother tried to make her a Dodgers devotee, she has remained fiercely loyal to the team.

Unlike Uchi, Nicholson does not see the “bandwagon fans” as a threat, but hopes that they will continue to support the team this season. “Everybody has bandwagon fans,” says Nicholson. “You just got to live with them. Some of my friends that were on the bandwagon actually started watching baseball with me.”

Twenty-one-year-old Nicole Hayden, a liberal studies major, couldn’t agree more with Nicholson. “Bandwagon fans don’t bother me, because it really happens with everything,” she says, adding, “it is okay that a lot of my friends jumped on the bandwagon, because it gives me more friends to go to the games with. They will be just as excited this season, but they just won’t know as much as me.”

The enthusiastic senior has been a Giants lover for fifteen years now, and says she has become more dedicated within the last few years. Hayden cites meeting Brian Wilson last month at Fan Fest as one of the highlights of her year so far. “I’m really excited to see Brian Wilson play this year. He even hugged me. It was just so cool,” Hayden says smiling as she recalls the meeting.

Every SF State Giants addict wants to make it to as many games this season as possible. However, there is a growing concern among students about how many games they will actually be able to attend since ticket prices have skyrocketed. According to Giants President Larry Baer, the average price of a ticket is up 6.5 percent from last year. The starting price for a ticket against the rival Dodgers is twenty dollars. Add ridiculous parking prices, public transportation fees, five dollar sodas and hot dogs, ten dollar beers, and a day at the ballpark comes with a large price tag.

Lucky for Uchi, he already has tickets for six games this season thanks to his mother who works for AT&T Park. If Uchi had it his way, he would be at every single game this season. He says he was really upset that he could not attend Opening Day as he had planned. Uchi and some friends had planned to buy standing-room-level tickets that usually go for about fifteen dollars, but already a single standing-room ticket for opening day costs a whopping one hundred dollars and Uchi says there is no way he could afford or would pay that crazy price.

“If tickets are going to be that expensive all year, then I really don’t know how many games I’ll be able to make,” he laments. “I plan on going to as many games as I can afford.”

Julian Koehne was born-and-bred a Giants fan. The soft-spoken art major recalls fond memories of visiting AT&T Park as a child for numerous outings with his family. However, much to Koehne’s despair, he was not able to attend any games last season. He still supported his team by watching every game either at bars or at home. “I just didn’t have the money for it last year, and I won’t this year either,” he explains.

Unfortunately for Hayden, she finds herself in the same predicament as Koehne. “I plan on going to a lot of games this season, but tickets are a lot more expensive and I probably won’t make as many games as I did last season.”

Despite inflated ticket prices and unwelcome fans, students couldn’t be more excited that baseball is back. This season there are different faces joining the roster including Brandon Belt, who came up from the minor leagues and Miguel Tejada, who was signed as a free agent. Fan favorite and utility player, Juan Uribe, ironically signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers upsetting many fans. However, the solid pitching staff that propelled the team to the championship level remains the same. Many predict the Giants will make the playoffs again this year with the same stellar pitching they had last year and the exciting new additions.

According to Koehne, releasing Uribe was not only a bad move for the team, but also upsetting for fans that watched him help the Giants win the championship. “It is kind of sad, because you know, he helped them win, and then goes to their most notorious rival,” says Koehne. Despite his objection to the release of Uribe, Koehne believes the Giants still have that special spark inside themselves to lead a very successful season.

“Brandon Belt is very good,” he continues. “He is a little happy on the bat, and needs to control his swinging, but he is definitely up-and-coming. They are just warming up, but as far as it goes, I think we are going to do very well this season.” Unfortunately after seventeen games, Belt was released back to the minor leagues.

According to Kevin Paul, contributing writer for Fox Sports and creator of sports website, The Wife Hates Sports, the Giants have a lot to look forward to in 2011. Paul predicts the Giants will win their division. “The NL West should once again be a tight race that goes down to the wire,” Paul predicts, “but with the pitching staff that the Giants currently have, it’s hard to pick against them.”

Contributing Major League Baseball editor Shawn Clark also forecasts a successful season. San Francisco’s heroes, “went nearly injury free,” Clark emphasizes, “with a rotation that once again makes the Giants the favorites to not only win the division, but another pennant in 2011.” He believes that the Giants have proven many wrong by their solid performances. However, he adds, “it’s up to the Giants not to suffer through a World Series hangover this season like so many other titlists have endured in this great game of baseball.”

Uchi believes this year is no doubt going to be tough, but just like last year, definitely worth it in the end. “I think we are going to make the playoffs,” he states. “Last season was complete torture. We were grinning and grinding for every single run. It is not going to be easy, and we don’t really have any all-star players besides our pitchers. I think it is going to be tough, the same way it was last year.”

Still other SF State fans are unsure what 2011 will have in store for the black-and-orange. “Right now it is hard to tell what will happen,” says Nicholson. “Everyone seems pretty good, but you know anything could happen. It is baseball; it’s timeless. You never know until the end of the ninth inning. Right now they are being a little cocky and not doing as well as I know they could do. There are new players, though, and once they get into the swing of everything, you never know, everything changes after the first month.”

Renowned San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Bruce Adams believes the spellbinding performance the Giants displayed last season will be nearly impossible to repeat. “Nothing will replace the magic of last season,” he declares. “It was a once in a lifetime experience for baseball fans; everything came together. It was a perfect.”

No matter what happens this season for San Francisco’s favorite team, SF State students are going to be there supporting the orange-and-black every game, regardless of whether or not they make it to AT&T Park. The Giants have come a long way since their move to California, and 2010 marked the first year they ever won a World Series in San Francisco, not to mention at AT&T Park.

“Them winning the World Series was like Christmas times a thousand,” says Uchi. “I went out every single fucking game, the whole playoffs. Not to mention, I did horrible in school, my grades completely dropped, but it was so worth it,” he laughs.

2010 will forever be the year of the Giants for San Francisco, and sorry Dodger fans, it’s looking like 2011 just might be, too.

Summer at the de Young

Discover the vibrant colors, styles and drama of Spain without leaving the city. Escape in the elegance of a blood red coat, pink silk on black lace and the emotion evoked by a black matador bolero jacket, embroidered in gold and red stitching.

This summer consider spending one of the first Tuesdays of the month inside the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The de Young is unique in that it offers more than flat paintings hanging on a wall or statues frozen in orderly spaces. It offers color, imagination, and innovation.

Every year the museum displays influential pieces by renowned fashion designers, such as Yves Saint Laurent, and Vivian Westwood. This summer they are showing influential designs by Balenciaga and Spain. The show runs until July 4.

The designers showcased are chosen not for fame but for their creative ability to challenge and change culture and ideas.

Cristobal Balenciaga became a world famous Spanish fashion designer in the 1950s. By using sensually bold color pallets of black, red and pink with lace, Balenciaga transformed classic shape patterns. Designing clothes that moved away from proper waistlines and proportions, he created new women silhouettes.

“The exhibit showed me how versatile and inventive Balenciaga was as a designer,” says Erica Chang, 24, a graduate student at SF State. “His Spanish influence is apparent in the majority of his designs, which consisted of simple lines that tastefully flatter the female form.”

Students of all studies will get something out of the experience, whether it is inspiration or entertainment.

“It has a lot to offer in terms of thinking about fashion, perspective, style, and colors. It also reminds us to be inventive and trust our instincts, which we can easily forget.” Chang says. “There was this dress that was spectacular. It was a red, strapless, short, silk cocktail dress. It had presence, or, gave the impression that whoever wore it would radiate a presence-like she existed.”

De Young holds an event every Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., and for six dollars you can drink free wine and explore certain exhibits at no extra fee. Olmec, the master artworks of ancient Mexico, is the signature show for their Friday night event and will continue till May 8. In June they launch their Picasso exhibition.

On a budget? Visit the de Young on the first Tuesday of any month for free admission. Students with a valid ID get a discount during regular visiting hours, which are Tuesday through Sunday.

San Francisco Green Festival

At first glance, the San Francisco Green Festival appears to be more of a circus than a community gathering. One passerby loudly exclaims that it looks like a street bazaar. Underneath the veil of scattered cubicles, noisy crowds and vendor sales, there is an underlying message of community, diversity and new ideas. For two days the marketplace and consumers converge, exploring and challenging the current ideologies of consumption and consumerism, enlightening and altering their way of thinking that could change the way we bathe, eat, get news, dress, and interact.

“The festival made me more aware of how much I waste and inspired me to reduce that, I also use cloth bags much more frequently, and I found a way to recycle my ink cartridges from my computer,” says SF State student Marissa Brun, 25. “It inspired me to waste less in terms of bagging and packaging and turned me on to natural alternatives to processed foods.”

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Everything about the event inspires a change in thought, even the way you purchase admission. They provide discounts to students and free admission for those who engage in sustainable practices. For instance, volunteering at the event, donating unused canned goods, using public transportation, riding a bike, supporting local grocery or even checking out the latest in automobile technology can get you a discount or free admission.

[pullquote author=”Marissa Brun”]“Students should attend the green festival to learn that there are other ways of doing everyday things that can reduce waste and actually help the environment, rather than hurt it.”[/pullquote]

Entering the food tent, you become consumed by the smell of sizzling vegan sausages, toasted Panini filled with mushrooms, avocado and spinach, spicy Indian curries with sticky coconut rice, and the steamy smell of folded savory crepes. Offering vegan and sometimes raw cuisine, food vendors are smiling and always busy with hungry bellies to feed. This year they featured local, organic and vegan wines and beer which were sampled inside the tasting tent.

In cubicles scattered throughout the convention center vendors offer their products and services with warm smiles, eager to converse. Surprisingly profit is not the priority, at least for those two days, the gathering is about education. Displayed are products most consumers never consider that can benefit society and commerce. The underlying message of the event is reduce, reuse and recycle, eliminating waste.

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America is a society of over-consumption, the consequences of which are pollution, toxic waste and garbage. No one can undo the damage of our consumer lifestyles but we can transform our current way of living to be more sustainable, aware and connected to community and the earth, hopefully preventing future damage to ourselves. The earth and humans are linked. The whole idea of throwing away waste is an illusion, because it never leaves, it stays on the earth just as we do, “a closed system”.

For ten years Green America and Global Exchange have brought the Green Festival to cities across the nation. Their goal is to initiate dialogue, inspire change among businesses, and educate residential communities about sustainability and environmental impact. Green America connects the market with consumers to create a socially responsible economy. On their website they provide a list of environmentally conscious businesses. Global Exchange is a human-interest organization that promotes an international economy where workers, consumers and the environment are considered before profit. They help people all over the world with green business ideas start up their trade. The festival extensively screens every vendor, business, and presenter to demonstrate that they make a significant commitment to community and the environment.

Looking beyond profit, most vendors sell items that are beneficial to the consumer and the environment. Mr. Ellie Pooh, one of the vendors, is a company that sells paper made from elephant poo. The paper is sterilized, odorless, durable, organic and sustainable. According to mrelliepooh.com, elephants in Sri Lanka (a country off the southern coast of India) are killed at alarming rates to make room for human needs, like agriculture. Mr. Ellie Pooh opened their factories in rural areas, where they train and hire locals, which supports the community economy and inspires the natives to value the elephants. Using poo paper may sound extreme, but moving away from paper products, which require the loss of trees and accumulation of garbage, is a sustainable alternative.

green01019Konjacu, a Japanese vendor that sells skincare products, brings a way to bathe without the use of soaps. Their veggie sponges are an interesting alternative to the polluting toxic chemicals that are in most skincare products. According to konjacu.com, their sponges clean better and safer than most store bought brands and are completely biodegradable, and can even be used on children.

“I liked the way the vendors showed alternatives to products that are not good for the environment or for our bodies, such as coconut sugar as an alternative to cane sugar and hemp as an alternative to cotton,” says Pacifica resident Jason Crist, 24. “I appreciated the information that was available for each cause and item. It was fun to be around so many earth friendly people who shared the same mindset.”

[pullquote author=”Huia Richard Hutton, geography and human environmental studies professor at SF State”]“Seeing ordinary people with their big ideas and creative forces put into practice is beautiful.”[/pullquote]

Lecturers from the SF community and the nation spoke throughout the day. The speakers are deeply involved in sustainable business, community and politics. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi spoke in the Community Action Pavilion about plans for a greener and more sustainable community. Mirkarimi was the first to propose and successfully ban plastic bag use in businesses, setting a standard for communities in the Bay Area.

SF State Geography and Human Environmental Studies Professor, Huia Richard Hutton, found the Community Action Pavilion inspiring. Hutton thought seeing people’s ideas and creativity put into action through grassroots social movements was exhilarating. “Seeing ordinary people with their big ideas and creative forces put into practice is beautiful.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, author of “The Vegan Table” stood in a booth surrounded by fans and vegan newbies. Deemed “the vegan Martha Stewart,” Goudreau welcomed guests with warm smiles and enthusiastic encouragement. When a girl commented that she was new to veganism, Goudreau praised her exploration and gave her some pointers.

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With any gathering of idealists, the festival attracts some egotistical personalities pushing their agendas. Some attendees thought the event reminded them of a mini-mall and that the vendors were a bit pushy. Crist says, “Some vendors seemed slightly arrogant in their way of living and imposed a lot of guilt on consumers. Maybe there could be more activities to create a more hands-on experience and less of a pressure to buy products.”

Despite some negative sentiments, the festival provides an outlet for the community and a place of expression for students. “Seeing all the youth volunteers at the festival shines a positive light on the community,” Hutton says.

Hutton teaches the class, Environmental Problems and Solutions, at SF State, a course that challenges students to make connections within themselves and their environment by thinking holistically. We are so easily distracted by static created by technology, consumption, and image we forget about the larger more significant issues in our lives. It is a course that can change the way you think, consume and act.

One of the most important things a student can do to become more connected is to make time for mental space. “Mental space provides a chance to have deeper conversations with yourself, to hear yourself think and to be observant,” Hutton says.

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The festival is, in a way, a gathering of individuals who have had that deeper conversation within, and are able to share some of that knowledge with the community.

“Students should attend the green festival to learn that there are other ways of doing everyday things that can reduce waste and actually help the environment, rather than hurt it,” Brun says. “I think students are unaware of the harm they cause most of the time and don’t know where to find information to understand the importance of our consumption patterns. Students are already in the mindset of learning and therefore are more likely to absorb the information and share it with their friends.”

Bob Weir and Phil Lesh go Furthur

A line of cars extends out to the highway as passengers patiently wait to swap their ticket stubs for the durable, multi-colored wrist band. Already there is a buzz in the air about how if you snip off the excess length of a few wrist bands, you can weave them together and falsify one.

Vehicles of all sorts file into the massive, open lawn area. Little Honda Civics, old VW vans and bugs, giant Econoline vans spewing exhaust, a brightly colored mini-bus, new pick-up trucks, the works-they all stack in one after the other. The people park with a car length or so in between each vessel, leaving room for a tent and a shade structure. Thunder clouds loom in the distance, offering the threat of rain, but no one seems to mind. The sun is out and excited faces begin to survey their surroundings. Strangers introduce themselves, they will be neighbors for the next three nights and there is nothing better than a good neighbor.

Beers are cracked open and tent poles begin to fly about, as camps are assembled. Music drifts through the spring air and in the blink of an eye the parking lot/campground is becoming a party. Girls run by skipping in tie-die dresses, little kids chase each other around barefooted, dogs are barking, a rooster is crowing, transient kids make their way up and down the aisles of cars selling mushrooms, acid, pot-brownies and other assorted narcotics; and respectable old-timers recline in their lawn chairs to watch the magic that is happening all around them. Camp sites turn into makeshift vendor booths; selling tie-die clothing, smoking accessories, food and a variety of other handmade crafts and goodies.

All these people; young, old, knowledgeable and naïve; they are all here to see three nights of music at the first ever Furthur Festival. Furthur is the current formation of the classic San Francisco band, The Grateful Dead. From May 28 through May 30, 2010, the iconic band took over Angel’s Camp in Calaveras County just a few hours east of the Bay Area to perform three nights of music.

Each night promised to be two full sets of assorted tunes and then a third set where they would be playing one of three classic albums: Working Man’s Dead, American Beauty and Terrapin Station.

The festival was a success. All three nights delivered incredible renditions of every song they played, many of which had not been played in a very long time. For old and new fans alike the three nights was just about as good as it can get when it comes to hearing Grateful Dead music.

Furthur Terrapin Suite by Richard Karevoll

Not many bands have the musical stamina or integrity to do three nights of five hour concerts, a quality that has set them apart from so many other bands through out their existence.

Furthur is only two original members of The Grateful Dead. On guitar and vocals there is Bob Weir accompanied by his long time musical companion Phil Lesh on bass and vocals. The two original members have toured for years since the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995, but they had done so with their individual solo bands.

In the spring of 2009 the two reunited along with original drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman and toured the U.S. as The Dead. For this tour, Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band and Government Mule took over lead vocals and guitar in place of Jerry Garcia. This tour reignited the spark between Weir and Lesh and they decided they wanted to get back together and breathe new life into the timeless music.

The result was Furthur. Further was the name of the magic bus that Ken Keesey and the Merry Pranksters tooled around the country in, in the early 1960s. They, along with the Grateful Dead became famous for hosting parties called Acid Tests or Trips Festivals; in which they would give out LSD to everyone and just watched to see what happened. The Grateful Dead were a mainstay for many of the events, including one at San Francisco State University on October 2, 1966.

Weir and Lesh wanted to assemble a team of musicians who they felt comfortable playing with. The band is known for their improvisational ways and they needed musicians who could hear what was happening and be able to react accordingly. There was also of course the issue of who is going to take over the part of Jerry Garcia.

John Kadlecik had been the lead singer and guitarist for Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band that has been playing entire replicas of Grateful Dead shows since 1997.

In an interview on Lehigh Valley Music on February 14, 2010 by John J. Moser; Bob Weir said, “We went through the various options and listened to a lot of guys, and John seemed like a good idea on a number of levels. First off, he knew most of the material. And so it would require a whole lot less of the back-breaking rehearsals that it takes to teach somebody a whole book. I don’t know if Phil or I have that in us to do again. But, fortunately, there are a number of players who know our stuff, know our book. And of those folks, given that we play with a number of them, it was time to check out a couple more. And we started playing with John and it just, it clicked – the guy’s great.”

To back the three front men, they employed Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Jay Lane on drums; both of whom had played with Bob Weir in his band Rat Dog. Too remain in the tradition of two drummers they harnessed the ability of Joe Russo from Benevento/Russo Duo. To give the band the vocal depth they needed, back up vocalists Zoe Ellis and Sunshine Becker also joined the band.

The new group premiered to sold-out audiences for two nights in September 2009 at the Fox Theatre in Oakland. After these shows the band hit the road for a small U.S. tour followed by a two night run at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in down town San Francisco for New Years Eve.

After the New Years run, they treated Marin County fans to a small show at 19 Broadway night club/bar in Fairfax, which was then followed up by a nearly two-week run of live “rehearsal sessions” at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. The town was turned up-side down as Dead Heads descended upon the small town, with or without tickets to the intimate live shows.

On March 12, 2010 Furthur celebrated Phil Lesh’s seventieth birthday by holding a concert at Bill Graham Auditorium. Lesh thanked the audience and as he does at all shows he publicly remembered the young man who donated his liver to Phil Lesh in 1998, Lesh then encouraged everyone to become an Organ Donor. This remembrance was particularly heart felt because it was his birthday.

Shortly after, Lesh announced to fans through his website, philzone, that Jay Lane would be leaving the band to rejoin one of his original bands, another Bay Area great, Primus. The Furthur Festival in May would be the band’s first show with just one drummer.

As of now Furthur is still on the road. Selling out shows across the country, choosing to do multiple nights at some-what smaller venues and keep ticket prices reasonable rather than giant arena shows; they keep fans delighted and guessing each night as to what songs they will play and where they will take the music next. Their New Years Eve shows at the Bill Graham are most likely going to remain a tradition from here on out; a two night extravaganza of floats, midnight antics and delirious, mind-altering crowd mayhem.

There is more than one pan on the stove though. Weir has been working with the Marin Symphony to create a musical experience being billed as “First Fusion”. Weir and accompanying musicians will join the Marin Symphony to create unique renditions of selected Grateful Dead songs. A project that has been in the works for over a year, it will debut on May 7 at the Marin Music Auditorium in San Rafael. Proceeds will go to benefit the Marin Symphony and other Marin music programs.

As if Marin wasn’t getting enough love from the band, Lesh is close to purchasing a building in Fairfax to turn into a music venue. He plans to name it Terrapin Landing, and let it stand as a sort of home for Grateful Dead music and a place for him and his friends to host intimate concerts. The plans are still in the preliminary stages, and as of yet the purchase has not been made, but with recent press coverage the reality of it seems to be materializing.

Furthur will be back to the Bay Area for two nights at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on June 3 and 4. The boys have not been there since their 2009 tour as The Dead. The venue was built by legendary Bay Area concert promoter Bill Graham in 1985 to 1986. The shape of the venue is meant to resemble the Grateful Dead’s “Steal Your Face” logo.

Since the beginning the music of Grateful Dead has been about the fans and about community. The phenomenon of their followers, the open taping policy and sharing of the concerts and the relentless touring is only matched by a few other bands; and even with those bands, it is partly done in appreciation or in absence of the Grateful Dead.

But they’re back. Old fans are rejoicing to hear the music being played so well and new fans are happy to be given a chance to witness and experience one of America’s most interesting cult followings. They are a band that has transcended time and demographic and rests at the core of the jam band/festival scene which is very much alive from coast to coast to this day. Their music and their following started it all, and now in 2011, they are once again astounding crowds and creating followers of young and old.

Out withe the old and in with the new: Library enters final stages of construction

There is indeed a plan. That massive, blue-tinted, glass curtain that jets out from the seemingly never ending library construction is part of a larger vision. Once completed, the glass wall will lead the eye on an unobstructed visual trip, from 19th Avenue straight down the walk-way, past the future site of a new Fine Arts Building and ending with a view of the Humanities Building. It is one building block in the puzzle that is the Campus Master Plan.

The San Francisco State campus has been without an official, centrally located library since the summer of 2008. The original completion date was set for the fall of 2011, but that date has since been moved back to the spring of 2012.

For many students, the long walk across campus to the Annex building between Lake Merced Drive and Winston Boulevard is just a way of life while attending SF State.

Alyssa Hagood is in her junior year as a business major. Most of her classes are in the business building, which would just be a stone’s throw from the library, if it were completed. But rather, she makes the ten minute walk at least once a week to the Annex where she can meet with other students to study.

“I never saw the old library and I don’t think I will be around to see the new one,” says Hagood. “I don’t mind the walk that much, but it’d be nice if I could just stop in really quick for a quiet place to study or meet with a group without having to go from one extreme end of the campus to the other.”

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Once you are there, the Annex is a pretty decent place to study or use a computer. But during mid-terms and finals, the large white room which has become known as “Club Annex” to some students due to its 24-hour accessibility gets crowded and space becomes scarce.

[pullquote author=”Deborah Masters, Head librarian”]”I am really going to enjoy that moment,” says Masters. “Of walking into that building and seeing the students using it. I just want to see them everywhere. For students to have that kind of environment, with the natural light coming in from that glass façade is just so great. They are just going to gravitate to it.”[/pullquote]

Computers fill up, comfy chairs are taken and study tables are packed, but what every student can be sure of is that when the new library opens up, this will no longer be a problem.

It would appear that no one is more excited about the unveiling of the completed library than head university librarian, Deborah Masters.

Masters has been at SF State for sixteen years and for the last ten years she has been hands on in the process of getting the school a new library. Now, with just over a year toward the projected completion (a date that is likely subject to more delay), Masters is finally seeing the state of the art library materialize into its final form.

“I am just so going to enjoy that moment,” says Masters. “Of walking into that building and seeing the students using it. I just want to see them everywhere. For students to have that kind of environment, with the natural light coming in from that glass façade is just so great. They are just going to gravitate to it.”

Aside from enjoying the beautiful aesthetic of the architecture and the flood of natural light, students have a modern and very well equipped mega-library to look forward to.

On the ground floor of the six-story library, students will enter into a state of the art facility which will be known as the study commons. On this floor alone, students will have access to sixty desktop computers as well as forty places to use a laptop computer. Students can bring their own laptop and plug it in or borrow one of the hundred loaner laptops which will be available. Those same laptops are currently available for checkout in HSS 127.

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There will be media viewing and listening rooms with a checkout center located next to them. Any CDs or movies you may have seen in class will be available for viewing on your own time in a private room. Twelve study rooms will give students a private place to meet, equipped with white boards, media capabilities and enough seating space to hold six to twelve students depending on the room. This floor and all of its resources will be available to students 24 hours a day and can hold up to about three hundred people.

The next floor up will be an almost identical space, with computers, study rooms and media capabilities, unlike its ground floor companion with a small café serving ready-made foods, pastries, coffee and all the little things that fuel good studying.

“Occupancy data shows that you don’t need both floors to be open twenty-four hours a day,” says Masters. “But come finals and midterms, you do. There’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them (students) in there. We love them.”

As you ascend another level in the building, you come upon the open stacks and book collection. Rows of traditional library books will be available to browse and among the book collections, there will be more study spaces. Desks and chairs will be located along the perimeter and amidst the rows; outlets will provide power for laptops. In addition to the open book collection, this floor will house the multimedia production center where students can use editing software.

A selection of high demand and more recent books will be available in the open stacks for browsing, but around three-quarters of the school’s books will remain in the automatic retrieval system. Many students have become used to this process since the library first went into construction. A student may request a book through the reference desk or online. Those books are located in stacks where a mechanical arm retrieves them and delivers them to librarians or staff.

Currently, there are about a dozen students and other staff members that work to make those delivered books available to students. Despite what could be considered a lack of students using actual books for resources, Masters assures they are very busy with the automated retrieval system. The system saves space and has been working well. The stacks for the automated retrieval system will remain intact, in the west wing of the first and second floors.

The third floor will have even more accesable stacks of books and another large open study area with laptop capabilities, reference desks, maps, charts and other resources for students. The fourth floor will offer special collections, a children’s book section and more study space with outlets and desks. Masters feels that the higher you go in the building, the quieter it will get.

The fifth and sixth floors will be occupied by the Sutro Library. The Sutro Library is a branch of the California State Library. What started out as a significant collection of a couple hundred thousand volumes of rare books originally collected by Adolph Sutro has grown into a significant genealogical collection, according to Masters. Once the geneological collection is located in the campus library it will gain a lot of attention and will be a valuable asset, especially for graduate students who need primary sources for their research.

The construction of the library has been a two part process which in the end will have added 70,042 gross square-feet to the existing library. The first part of the process was the removal of old library resources, demolition of the Franciscan Building and the construction of the new wing. The exterior work is almost complete and the final phase is underway. Crews are moving onto seismically retrofitting the building and moving onto the interior work. Heating, plumbing, electricity, drywall, sprinklers and other finishing work will soon be uninterrupted by weather once the exterior is sealed.

Simon Lam is the Associate Vice President of Capital Planning, Design and Construction (CPDC) and his job is to oversee construction. He feels that the work running behind schedule is an inevitability of such a large construction project. According to Lam, in a project this large there will always be unforeseen complications that arise along the way.

CPDC is in charge of the campus master plan, which will be keeping the campus in a state of construction for the next several years.

According the SFSU Master Plan Website, the purpose of the phyiscial master plan is to create a functional setting that will meet the strategic goals of the University and support the academic mission. by and large, the plan aims to accomodate an increased enrollment from twenty thousand students to twenty -five thousand students by the year 2020. all new development is to occur withion existing campus boundaries.

While crews are in the final stretch, the library is not scheduled to be open for another year. Now it is time to begin selecting furniture and deciding what vendors will operate inside the building.

For a week in April, test furniture was displayed in Annex 1. A variety of chairs were set up near the computers and a feedback box was left to take suggestions and comments from students. Masters’ said they received a lot of feedback from students and will consider that when choosing chairs for lounging, computers and study tables.

The Unseen Side of SF State

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To the untrained or inattentive observer, the campus of San Francisco State University is just that: a campus. The concrete and stucco of the Cold War era buildings are offset by the almost artificial brilliance of the lawns, reflected by the tinted glass that dominates the school’s new structures.

But in this dull monotony of a run-of-the-mill public university campus hides a whole variety of things worth discovering. SF State was, after all, founded in 1899, and over the last 112 years, students, teachers, staff, and artists have all done their part to make the campus into something more than the sum of its parts.

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Sound Web

What is it?
Sound Web is made up of 10 different “audible features.” Each of these features is, in fact, a small, brushed aluminum enclosure with a solar panel and a speaker, standing no more than two feet off the ground. Each enclosure plays one of four different sounds: Wind-Chime, Percussion and Rhythm, Bird-Call, or Cricket Chips. Scattered around campus, the sounds are meant to provide a guide to the visually impaired. The components are designed by SF State’s engineering students and professors, and are built as simply as possible—a good thing, since they have been repeatedly vandalized.

Why you should care:
A cool idea, and the sounds definitely add something to the ambiance of the campus, but trying to navigate around campus using only the different sounds? Way too hard, at least for this not-blind reporter.

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The Idiot

What is it?
The dilapidated, rusty features that make this metal sculpture so uncomfortable to look at also make it hard to miss. This eerie humanoid metal sculpture by artist R. Stone is located just behind the fine arts building across the road from the Humanities building. Several other works in the same style compliment the weathered metal art piece.

Why you should care:
These sculptures may make you feel uncomfortable, but that doesn’t make them any less works of art. The fabrication and patience required to create a form out of scrap metal and chain are impressive alone, even if the end result might not be for everybody.

Roots of Freedom/Raices De Libertad

What is it?
This mural is the first of three stunning works of Chicano-inspired art that grace the lowest level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. The first mural visible after coming down the stairs, the Roots of Freedom was completed in 1990, helped by sponsorship by the League of Chicano Artists/Taller de Arte Publico.

Why you should care:
Not the most stunning of the three works of art in the Cesar Chavez basement, but it depicts the most powerful political message, complete with activists being kept behind bars.

Cross of Quetzalcoatl

What is it?
The second of the three large works in the Cesar Chavez Student Center, the Cross of Quetzalcoatl was completed in 1991 by the Precita Eyes muralists, which describe themselves as “an inner city, community-based mural arts organization.” While the organization is based in the Mission, they have collaborated on projects not only around San Francisco, but as far away as Brazil, Russia, and Germany as well.

Why you should care:
Quetzalcoatl is an Aztec deity believed to be a half-bird, half-snake deity, although his name was also taken on by many Aztec leaders, making it difficult to separate the deity’s actions from those of the rulers. As far as the piece of art goes, it has a very traditional look to it, which works nicely to balance out the constant noises of the arcade games that dominate the room.

Rise/Libertad

What is it?
This enormous mural dominates the bottom floor of the Student Center. Juana Alicia, who describes herself as “a muralist, print-maker, educator, activist, and painter who loves to draw,” painted the mural in 1990.

Why you should care:
With its bright colors, multiple layers and a hint of graffiti-style, Rise is easily the most eye-grabbing of the three big murals on Cesar Chavez Student Center’s recreation level. This painting manages to keep enough of the traditional Chicano feel to match the other two works, but is also more contemporary, thanks to its use of neon colors and a more modern style.

Universal Design Seating Studio

What is it?
This is actually a threesome of innovative approaches to seating, located on the patio of the Fine Arts building. A joint project between SF State design and industry and engineering students, Facilities Management and the Disability Programs and Research Center, the project tries to create novel ways to solve the issue of seating. MyTable is an adjustable-height table that features a wheel in the middle to rotate the whole assembly, and surrounding benches for seating. The now-defucnt MySolarTable is much the same, but used a solar panel to power an electrical lift to adjust the table height. Finally, The OpenBench is a series of recycled-plastic benches around a planter. The benches slide back and forth and tracks to create a number of different seating arrangements.

Why you should care:
All of the Universal Design Seating Studio is showing its age, but we were most bummed out that MySolarTable seems to be completely inoperable, and to make matters worse, it is stuck at a less-than-comfortable height. It would be great to see someone get the rig working again. Our favorite, and the most practical, is the OpenBench, which still works flawlessly and is very adaptable.

Untitled Works

What are they?
While sitting at the Universal Design Seating Studio, be sure to check out these modern art metal sculptures by Manuel Martin on the same Fine Arts building patio. Also, be sure to check out the wooden benches carved out of enormous logs while you are up there.

Why you should care:
The rusty surface of these steel structures falls somewhere in between “cool, old and weathered” and simply “derelict.” It may seem odd to have large hunks of steel on an second-story patio, but it is the fine arts building.

Rigoberta Menchu Hall

What is it?
This makes our list because it is the coolest place to chill out or study at SF State. Located on the Terrace level (the top floor) of the Cesar Chavez Student Center, the multi-level lounge/study area feels more like a home than a school, complete with couches and large areas that seem to be meant for fires. The hall’s namesake, Mecnhu won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work to publicize the plight of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala during that nation’s civil war from 1960 to 1996.

Why you should care:
A great place to study, but it fills up fast. Try checking the topmost levels for free seating, but the best bet is to get there early, or go during off-hours when campus is less busy.

SF State Observatory

What is it?
Located at the top of Thornton Hall, the Observatory is open to the public Monday and Wednesday evenings from 8 to 9:30 p.m., weather permitting. The observatory promises views of the Orion Nebula, the Pleiades, and the Andromeda Galaxy, just to name a few.

Our verdict
Seriously awesome. If you even have a remote interest in stars, the sky, or astronomy, check it out.

Flaura

What is it?
On the path leading to the Humanities building across from Cafe Rosso, Kevin La created this metal art enclosure for an electric utility box as a student work. Different size metal circles are cut out and welded together on a metal frame, creating a beautiful floral pattern that encapsulates and hides the utilitarian box that lurks beneath.

Why you should care:
The whole is definitely more than the sum of its parts in this case. It’s amazing what even a little, simple art can do to spruce up something like an ugly utility box. The world needs more art like this.

The Garden of Remembrance

What is it?
Located on the path between Burk Hall and Cesar Chavez, the Garden of Remembrance was created to honor the 19 Japanese American SF State students who were forced into internment camps during World War II. The 2001 build was led by Japanese American artist and internment camp victim Ruth Asawa, and features a waterfall and ten large boulders from each of the ten internment camps.

Why you should care:
A surprisingly touching story behind what many probably just see as a fountain and rock garden in a courtyard. But however you choose to see it, the flowing water has a nice calming effect to help balance out the madness of college.

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Ode to Hank

What is it?
These five aluminum totems that lean against the Cesar Chavez Student Center across from the gym are, in fact, a tribute by artist Terry Marashlian to the original installation of five wooden totem poles by artist Hank De Rlcco. “I meant them to be way more architectural,” Marashlian told [X]press in 2008.

Why you should care:
A brilliantly modern take on the idea of a totem pole. Aluminum construction and high tech finishing ala yachting and automotive design bring the icons of the Pacific Northwest into the 21st century.

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Buckeye and Benches

What is it?
Outside the gym, this enormous, modern-art metal sculpture by William Wareham would be impressive enough standing on its own, but it is also complimented by three matching benches that are scattered around the area.

Why you should care:
The sculpture we can take or leave, but we love the benches. Whenever art meets practicality, everybody wins. The bright reds, oranges and yellows that color this piece make it stand out from the bright green lawn and the grayed gym building that make up the background.

Transitory Art

Making my way out of the M line, as I get off at the Powell station, I pause before heading towards the stairs and see a drawing. Its captivity perfectly colors a memory that I have lived too often. The piece hangs on the BART wall, next to other advertisements which offer a range of subliminal messages from food delivery services to apparel promotion. The drawing, which seems to be done with color pencil, casually displays three teenage girl friends sitting down, their backs hunched, laughing as they patiently wait for a show. They are all wearing black punk band t-shirts; a Misfits and a Ramones shirt I think I still have tucked somewhere deep down in my dresser. It is obvious their black pants are hand-sewn, as Shizu Saldamando made sure to include every crooked detail on the lining. For artist Saldamando, this drawing recounts her adventures of taking BART into Berkeley to shop for records and attend punk shows. She captures a scene most teenage generations can relate to. Whether it is the bright pink hair or the fact that they are all wearing black from head to toe, it is an image any youngster has walked by or remembers being in. Saldamando, along with four other Chicana artists, evolve from depicting the old as they create colorful art promoting the Latina culture of today.

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ChicaChic is a new wave of artwork that expands beyond expressing personal identity, reflecting community issues, sending messages of culture, lifestyle and beliefs. Artist Angelica Muro tackles social, cultural, and political problems by using irony and class identity. Muro’s piece, Agricultural Workers in Gucci, is an archival pigment print where a three-piece drawing seems like a simple illustration of workers in the fields, eating lunch. Taking a closer look, there is one female worker wearing designer Gucci heels and matching purse. The workers are black and white, contrasting the majestic surroundings. Muro illustrates detailed flowers full of color, which gives the piece a sense of serenity, diverging the real issue of the drastic conditions workers go through. Muro’s way of displaying issues like this one leaves the observer with questions on how we define certain social economic statuses, and why analyzing a drawing in which a field worker wearing Gucci seems almost wrong.

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Another significant piece being displayed around BART stations is a painting of a woman, who is using her knees and hands to lean closer to what seems to be a beach, allowing the ocean waves to wash her hair. The underlying message that artist, Ana Teresa Fernandez conveys is placing herself in a black cocktail dress, her head down as her long dark hair washes the waves at the southern border, where San Diego meets Tijuana. Fernandez feels her piece, Acuario, speaks to the way the exhibition is instilled within a transitory space. “I chose the piece that was specifically at the border, which talks about a place one has to stop at to go to a completely different country, and unlike the BART, it’s a place that you either get rejected to go or not,” says Fernandez.

The posters on BART are an extension of the complete exhibition being displayed at The California Institution of Integral Studies. The paintings can be located at 1453 Mission Street, and the CIIS building is on 695 Minna Street.

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Exhibiting this new wave of Chicana art is an example of the many elements Latina artwork is reaching. Incorporating older techniques like embroidery with creating contemporary images of current issues gives the art a fresh, innovative look. While a range of pieces still touch on traditions and culture, they explore new tactics that indirectly deliver deep community concerns, leaving the observer with much more to ponder.

Commuting: SF State from Outside San Francisco

She is sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor, leaning towards her long mirror as she carefully applies a thick coat of eyeliner. Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” is playing in her cave-like room. She grabs her black jacket, purse, and heads off for a night out with friends. She pulls her scooter from the garage to the driveway and when she turns it on, she realizes the meter is not working. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Kaela PerLee says to herself. Annoyed, she makes her last attempt knowing in the back of her head that it is not going to work. In San Francisco, this would not come as a hastle as PerLee can easily catch public transportation almost anywhere within a short walking distance. Living in Daly City however, is another story. “Walking from my house to Daly City BART takes 20 minutes, and though the actual BART ride is not long, I have to make sure I head to a BART station before midnight to catch the last train out of San Francisco.” PerLee knows it is more of a drag going out at night, so she constantly reminds herself when to say goodbye and start making the long trip home.

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PerLee moved from Santa Rosa to attend  SF State University almost two years ago, and though it has been a new experience living away from home, she sometimes feels shortchanged not being able to live in actual San Francisco. With rent so high, many SF State students struggle to find an affordable place to live in the city. Whether it is Daly City or the East Bay, having to commute longer distances can get in the way of enjoying the active, lively environment of San Francisco. Some college students transfer or apply to SF State to experience the diverse lifestyle the city offers, along with its campus. Others, for certain reasons, reside outside the city. So are students really missing out on the experience of living in the city? Or is cheaper rent worth the longer walks, commutes and extra efforts?

[pullquote author=”Heather Boyer, SF State student living in Fremont”]”I hate the prices of everything, like rent, parking, parking tickets and taxes. I dislike traffic and the busyness of life [in San Francisco] sometimes, but it depends on where you live”[/pullquote]

Matthew Becerra remembers those tedious mornings when he lived in Daly City. He recalls having to walk up 87th Street, then down the long stretch of Junipero Serra where he walked over the same bridge, passed the same gas station, then the abandoned buildings and animal hospital that never seemed to be open. As the Century Theater sign got bigger, Becerra felt the long walk coming to an end as he reached BART, and left the dreadful fog of Daly City behind. “Because I lived on the border of Daly City and San Francisco, there was no MUNI nearby for me and so I had to walk to the BART station everyday to take the free shuttle,” says the 22-year-old SF State student. Now that he lives in Park Merced, it takes him a swift two minutes rather than two hours to get to class. “The convenience makes my life a lot easier in so many ways as I can plan my schedule and daily routine without worrying about how to get back to Daly City, seeing as how their public transportation seem to stop running around 8p.m.”

On the other hand, art education major, Heather Boyer, can handle the extra hours of commuting to SF State from Fremont all in effort of staying closer to family and friends. Like Bacerra, Boyer’s mornings start about three hours before class. She takes an hour to get ready, grabs a quick breakfast, then walks to Fremont BART, which takes around 15 to 20 minutes. It takes a little over an hour until Boyer makes it to Daly City BART where she catches the shuttle; her final commute to State. When Boyer plans to hang out in the city, she finds ways to save money and time by staying at a friends house and driving instead of relying on public transportation. Living outside of San Francisco doesn’t stop Boyer from enjoying the city living perks, but she does however, prefer Fremont’s weather and economic living. “I hate the prices of everything, like rent, parking, parking tickets and taxes. I dislike traffic and the busyness of life [in San Francisco] sometimes, but it depends on where you live,” says Boyer.

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While people choose to make a home outside the city in hopes of saving some money, the cost of public transportation can still add up. Taking BART one way from any city outside of San Francisco to Powell Street is no less than $2.95, compared to the $1.75 spent commuting within San Francisco. MUNI has bus lines crossing any area within the city and offers a transfer that is valid for two hours for $2. As for San Mateo’s public transportation, the SamTrans runs only every half hour between certain times, depending on the day, and charges $2 without a transfer.
Michelle Dayrit a Fremont resident and newly transfer student spends $50 commuting from Fremont to San Francisco then to Berkeley (where she works) twice a week. But like Boyer, despite the traveling woes, Dayrit still prefers the quiet living environment Fremont offers.

Attending a school like SF State usually means that a  good percentage of  those commuter students do not depend on their parents, and have economic statuses where they have to work in order to pay for their own education. “I don’t qualify for financial aid and both my parents passed away, leaving me with no help from family. Therefore, I have to work full time and take out loans in order to attend SF State,” says Dayrit, 26, a communications major. “But I’m okay with it. They never said it would be easy, but they did say it would be worth it.” Having an ill father, Boyer also felt it was important to stay home to be there for her father, and help out with household expenses. When her father passed away, Boyer’s priority was to stay close to her family. Born and raised in the East Bay, Boyer does not feel the need to move to San Francisco as most of her friends and family live in Fremont while she can still commute to the city for school or to hang out.   

In Becerra’s case, moving to San Francisco gave him a better opportunity to find a job, which compensates him having to spend more money. One of the greatest temptations of living in San Francisco, Becerra describes, is its vast variety of delicious local restaurants and bars conveniently located everywhere in the city. Which makes it easier for students like him to spend more money on dining out rather than taking the time to actually cook something. And even if cooking is an option, grocery shopping in the city is not cheap.

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Commuting from the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge is mechanical engineering major, Jason Mehrens. Everyday, he spends about an hour in his car battling traffic, from Mill Valley in Marin County to SF State. For Mehrens, the disadvantage of living away from San Francisco is having to commute all the time. Whether it’s a school function or personal leisure in the city, driving is the easiest option. Mehrens lives with his parents to save money and has a tuition waiver through the Veterans Affairs office. Even with some financial assistance from the government, he still has to take out loans and work some hours in order to cover college costs, which leaves him with very little free time to spare. Having spent one year at Chico State then three years living in Santa Barbara working on his Associates Degree, Mehrens feels like he has already experienced college living. “I can’t make up my mind if I want to live in the city because I work in Marin,” says Mehrens. “If I worked in the city, then I would probably make the move, but I don’t like the feel of living in close proximity to thousands and thousands of people stacked on top of one another.” It is a hard trade given the miles of parks and rich forests Marin houses, or the serene atmosphere the county has to offer, as hours can go by without having to hear the loud noises of traffic and busy city people. For Bacerra, moving closer to campus has encouraged him to become active in campus life. He is trying to join the History Students Association and now finds himself having more time to attend sporting events since his commute time is cut significantly. But for others, like Dayrit and Mehrens, getting away from the city’s rowdiness is worth the extra miles and longer BART rides.