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The Aftermath

Dolores Piper (left), great aunt of Derrick Gaines, and Gaines’ half-brother Michael Red (right), 7, pose for a portrait in their home in South San Francisco. Gaines, 15, was fatally shot by South San Francisco Police Officer Joshua Cabillo on the night of June 5, 2012. Photographs by Joel Angel Juárez

HOW FAMILIES COPE AFTER POLICE KILL THIER LOVED ONES

By Jennah Feeley

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n May 2012, two weeks before his high school graduation, Alan Dwayne Blueford, 18, ate one last piece of candy and left his house to meet up with some friends. In the hours that followed he was shot and killed by an Oakland police officer.

Two months later, 15-year-old Derrick Gaines walked with a friend in his hometown of South San Francisco when police approached him. The confrontation turned into a foot-chase that ended with Gaines dead in an ARCO gas station lot, having been shot in the neck by an officer.

In February 2014, San Jose State University police gunned down Antonio Lopez Guzman just beyond the campus borders. Footage from the lapel and dashboard cameras have yet to be released to the public — and details of the confrontation are ambiguous.

Disparities among police records, accounts from family members and media coverage persist in each incident. While the facts in many cases remain uncertain, the concern with police brutality in the Bay Area and beyond is clear. A fatal shot by Oakland police on Nov. 15 marked the 1,000th death at the hands of law enforcement in the U.S. this year alone, as reported by The Counted, a database maintained by The Guardian.

Some cases grabbed the nation’s attention, enraging the public on both sides of the law-and-order conflict, and spread like a shotgun blast across social media platforms. All at once, friends and family of the deceased were swept up in a whirlwind of interviews, police investigations and community uproar. But when the limelight dimmed, those families were left in darkness to deal with the aftermath. Despite the trauma of losing a son, a partner, a father or a friend, people have had to somehow pick up the pieces and find a way to continue their lives. And that’s what Alan Blueford’s mother, Jeralynn Blueford, finds so difficult – that nobody thinks about what happens to families after the police kill their loved ones.

RELIVING THE NIGHTMARE

Blueford thinks about the night she lost her son everyday. She remembers granting him permission to go out with his friends — a moment she can’t take back — and the phone call she received the next day telling her he was gone forever. She recalls a feeling of disbelief, of puzzlement. She thought, “they were wrong, this can’t be. Not my Alan.” She relives the sinking feeling that took over as her husband’s fist repeatedly pounded the counter and she saw the candy wrapper their son had left behind the last time she saw him.

Along with her husband, Adam, Blueford went to the police station for answers, but ended up leaving with more questions: What happened that night? Why had the police killed their child? What could Alan have done to deserve losing his life?

  • Jeralynn Blueford, mother of Alan Blueford, has dedicated herself to a life of activism after police killed her son in May 2012. Click the buttons to hear audio from Jeralynn Blueford.

In the months that followed, Blueford lost herself in grief. While dealing with a lawsuit over the murder of her son, defending his honor in the face of demonizing media accounts and trying to maintain a strong front for Alan’s two siblings, she didn’t think she could carry on. Anger consumed her and the sadness was paralyzing. She stopped working. She felt like she couldn’t move, sometimes like she couldn’t breathe. She said the sensation was worse than having the wind knocked out of you. “It’s like you gasp for air and there’s no air there.” She was on the brink of suicide when she came to the realization that she needed to pick herself back up for her family.

“I was like, ‘damn, it’s unfair for me to end it for me. I have other people, what about Aaron, what about Ashley, what about the grandkids,’” Blueford said. “They deserve to make memories with me. They deserve to share and know who I am. How will they learn about Alan if I’m not around to tell them?”

DEVASTATING AFTERMATH

Like Blueford, Dolores Piper had to learn how to push herself through the intense moments of sadness. Several years have passed since Piper lost her nephew, Derrick Gaines, but his death is still the first thing she thinks of when she wakes up sleepless at night. Having adopted him as a child, Gaines was a son to her, and his sudden death was devastating.

Piper was on her way home from a business trip in Sacramento the evening Gaines died, and didn’t find out he had been shot until her niece woke her with the news later that night. In the hours that followed, police officers arrived at her door to search the house. She recalls frantically trying to call people, but her mind was in such a fog she couldn’t dial the numbers correctly. The events of that night are still hard for Piper to fully remember.

“There was no describing it, where that night went,” Piper said.

Although the funeral brought forth an outpouring, support from the community wavered for Piper and her family in the weeks that followed. The media coverage, she felt, assassinated Gaines’ character almost immediately. Stories stated he had allegedly pulled a gun on an officer, and Piper couldn’t help but wonder, “who looks at ‘allegedly?’” She got the feeling that members of her community in South San Francisco thought Gaines deserved what had happened to him. She chose not to read the comments people made about the incident online.

Piper has instead held fast to the positive memories she has of her son. She remembers him as a chipper kid who could talk his way out of anything. She thinks back to the trips they took to Chicago, Seattle and Vancouver and how he indulged in hotel room-service. She read to Gaines every night, right into his 15th year — “I still have the book beside my bed that we were halfway through.” She’s held onto his books, his shoes, his clothes — all little mementos she keeps to remember him by.

Memories of Gaines linger everywhere in her life. She often drives past the ARCO station where he died and can’t help but think back to that horrible night. Before he was killed, Piper had never considered law enforcement a threat to her son. She doesn’t think Gaines ever believed cops were dangerous himself, either, and must have been shocked when met face-to-face with the officer’s gun that night.

“I think about how he must have felt at that very second, and how that must have been horrible,” Piper said. “If I dwell on those moments, I just get sick.”

These days, Piper still feels like she has to be on the defensive when she talks about Gaines. After reviewing the police report and talking to witnesses, she came to her own conclusion about what happened that night. She quit saying he was shot by police; now she says he was murdered by them. Speaking out about it and her involvement in activism against police brutality has become a means of healing.

POST-TRAUMA ACTIVISM

[pullquote align=”right”]”I feel so bad every time I have to tell my son — I have to re-traumatize him — ‘your dad is dead.’ I feel evil. I feel like a bad parent because I have to remind him every single time he asks.” – Laurie Valdez[/pullquote]

In the face of a similar situation, a turn to activism was obvious to Laurie Valdez. Her partner, Antonio Lopez Guzman, was shot down by university police just off campus at San Jose State. She couldn’t wrap her head around the incident and said it was unfathomable that Guzman would have done something to warrant that kind of reaction from police.

She didn’t think the cops had acted lawfully and realizing their 4-year-old son, Josiah, was going to have to live the rest of his life without a father, she knew she had to take action. Losing her partner was hard, but having to explain the situation to Josiah and his 12-year-old half-sister, Angelique, was agonizing. Angelique continues to try and be strong about the loss of her “papi,” who raised her since age 3, but Josiah still struggles to comprehend what happened. Almost two years later, Josiah still yo-yos between conceptualizing his father’s death and thinking he left to go back to Mexico. His pain is something Valdez “can’t put a Band-Aid on,” and it continuously breaks her heart.

“I feel so bad every time I have to tell my son — I have to re-traumatize him — ‘your dad is dead,’” Valdez said. “I feel evil. I feel like a bad parent because I have to remind him every single time he asks.”

  • Laurie Valdez poses with her daughter Angelique and son Josiah in their home. Since her husband was killed by police, she has been left to raise her children without him. Click the buttons to hear audio from Laurie Valdez.

As far as Valdez is concerned, there is no way of providing justice for Guzman, because he is already gone, but her little boy deserves someone to stand up for him. Valdez created the campaign, Justice 4 Josiah, to raise awareness about police violence and find solutions to help heal communities it impacts. She wants to prevent another child from losing a parent.

“My son is going to suffer, but if I can prevent that for another family somehow, some way Antonio’s death won’t be in vain,” Valdez said. “At least we will save somebody else from having to go through this.”

As Josiah grows up Valdez fears he will search the web for information about what happened to his father and read the comments people made about the incident. Guzman was an undocumented immigrant — and Valdez recalls comments that said he deserved what he got because he shouldn’t have been in this country in the first place. Other comments she saw characterized him as a person Valdez doesn’t recognize. Because he was so young, Josiah’s memories of his father are scarce and Valdez doesn’t want negative comments to paint an unfair picture of the man he was.

“I don’t teach my kids negativity,” Guzman said. “But this is the aftermath.”

Valdez filed a federal civil suit against San Jose State over the death of her partner, which was recorded on cameras worn by the officers involved. She believes the footage from the incident should be released to the public in this case, and in all others like it, so the right people can be held accountable.

In Alan Blueford’s case, the officer who shot him was also wearing a lapel camera it was switched off before he shot the 18-year-old. His mother has become an activist as well, and is working to create the “Alan Blueford Law,” which would require the prosecution of any officer who turns off or otherwise tampers with their camera equipment in an incident where they kill someone. In addition, their pension, under the proposed law, would be transferred to the family of the victim.

Recognizing that families in these situations have minimal government support, Mollie Costello teamed up with Blueford to help make the law become a reality.

“It’s not like you have money set aside for burial costs, or what happens when you can’t work,” Costello said.

Blueford and Costello also opened the Alan Blueford Center for Justice in Oakland as a hub for healing in the community. The center serves as a place for people to grieve, create art and find support in each other. Blueford has found solace in “helping hearts heal,” and aims to be a resource and an advocate for those touched by police violence.

“If we change the laws, not only will it be justice for Alan, it will be justice for all,” Blueford said. “Although I am speaking out for my son, somewhere there is another mother who cannot speak out for her son, and he has no justice. Nobody is calling his name.”

Valdez, too, works to be a voice for families in similar situations. In a televised interview on MSNBC Nov. 4, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino mentioned Guzman’s name in a comment about police violence in America, giving a nod to her efforts. “Wow,” she said. “I’m being heard.”

Piper also organizes friends and family members of police brutality victims as a means of support and activism. She created a Facebook account for the sole purpose of keeping in contact with the loved ones of those gunned down by law enforcement. She participates in marches and works to reach out to the youth in her community. It’s painful, she said, but she does it for her son.

  • Click the buttons to hear audio from Dolores Piper

Despite activism across the nation, the issue of violence between law enforcement and citizens remains unresolved. Blueford and Piper don’t want another mother to lose her son, and Valdez hopes other children don’t lose their fathers the way her son has. They are tired of hearing about fatal encounters with police because, as Blueford put it, “with each case you relive your own story.”

In the meantime, these women have pledged to continue to fight in the names of those lost. They will continue to seek better protections from police and for better support for the families left behind in the aftermath. Blueford, Piper and Valdez’s activism is what helps them carry on through their losses.

“My healing thing is to try and bring other families together so they know they are not alone because I know what it feels like,” Valdez said. ”We’re going to get through this together.”

SF Neighborhood looks to provide youth services

Monique Hosein speaks at the community town hall meeting at John O’connell High School. Photography by Angelica Williams

By Jasmine Williams

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos paced the auditorium of the Mission District’s John O’Connell High School on a chilly mid-November evening.  He looked pleased at the turnout for that night’s town hall meeting. A crowd of about 100 people consisted of teachers, parents, students, volunteers and nonprofit representatives amongst other community members gathered that night to discuss a new initiative called Roadmap to Peace.

The deaths of six Latino youth in a five-week period in 2012 sparked a combination of vigils, marches and town hall meetings led by community members that birthed the idea for the initiative. Roadmap to Peace, commonly referred to as RTP, was created to  help protect local youth from violence in the area.

“The community just grew tired of burying our kids,” said Angela Castillo, RTP’s community builder. “They figured that we need to figure out a more effective solution to keeping our kids safe.”

RTP plans to offer on-demand services such as tattoo removal, drug and alcohol support,  job training, vocational training, tutoring and emotional support services for youth in need across the city. Through a referral system, RTP will take in qualified youth and direct them to partners best suited to help each individual’s situation. Qualifications for the program include being a Latino between the ages of 13 and 24, having ties to San Francisco, and violence having some sort of effect on the quality of their life.

Justice Castaneda, who was a member of the steering committee for the initiative for two years, said Latino youth face unfair persecution by police, disproportionate punishment in the education system and unequal access to resources. He believes RTP is a necessary step toward addressing these very real issues affecting Latino youth in San Francisco and across the country.

“Essentially, we are wrapping around individuals who are enveloped in excruciating pain,” Castaneda said. “Everything we do will be responding to real situations.”

Alfonso Nevarez, speaks at the community city hall meeting at John O’connell High School on Thursday, November 12, 2015. (Angelica Williams/Xpress)
Alfonso Nevarez speaks at the community city hall meeting.

The experimental initiative stems from Instituto Familiar De La Raza Inc., a social service agency with an emphasis on serving the Latino community in San Francisco, particularly in the Mission District.

Campos hopes that through community involvement the initiative will thrive.

“When it comes to educating a child, it’s just like raising a child — it takes a village,” Campos said at the town hall meeting. “Just as it takes all of us to keep our community safe like we have, and now more than keeping it safe but actually bringing peace to our community.”

According to Campos, the civic action and community input over the last three years encouraged the city of San Francisco to pledge $3.2 million in September to support RTP.

Castillo believes that with the city’s money behind it, the program can really take advantage of what it is trying to achieve.

In the meantime, local nonprofits and other partners have made their services available to RTP. These partners include CARECEN, H.O.M.E.Y.,  Five Keys Charter School, Mission Peace Collaborative and Horizons Inc.

During the first year, RTP’s goal is to aid about 80 young people throughout the city, Castillo said, and eventually grow to help 500 young people a year.

Ultimately, Castillo hopes the initiative will be a pathway to resources that are either under maintained or don’t exist at all in the community.

“Sometimes we find that there is a lack of knowledge of what services are available in the community,” Castillo said. “So at the very least we want to spread awareness to the people of the community.”

To ensure the program provides “holistic healing,”  RTP is structurally based on spirituality, down-to-earth conversations as well as government-supported agencies to encapsulate youth with aid that speaks to them on a personal level.

To establish this approach, the initiative has placed culture and community at its core in order to saturate youth with resources.

“Culture has a way of building trust between people,” Castaneda said. “You need trust. And when you’re acknowledging differences in culture between people I think it’s necessary to acknowledge and use culture.”

Art of the Dead

An altar by Mary Ann Statler, 65, of San Louis Obispo at the Dia de los Muertos Festival of Altars in Garfield Square Nov. 2. Photos by Brian Churchwell

 

By Naomi Outlaw

Aztec dancers covered in jingling beaded skirts scooped and twirled in unison to beating drums as they led hundreds of people down blockaded streets in the Mission District. The sun was already set, but black and white faces painted to resemble skeletons still came into focus as the Día De Los Muertos procession moved down 24th Street and burned incense to honor the dead.

Día De Los Muertos is a Latino holiday that celebrates mortality and the natural cycle of life. Traditionally, Indios, the indigenous people of Mexico, celebrated the holiday by creating altars that offered food, candles, art and flowers to the deceased, generally in their homes and in cemeteries. In San Francisco, the holiday includes an annual parade and public altar making. The celebration largely revolves around community art without much focus on traditional elements. This all-inclusive atmosphere dates back to the 1970s when the Chicano movement established the holiday as a way for San Francisco to involve itself in its Latino community. Many who participate in San Francisco, find a space to create art but lack the culture and knowledge about the event’s heritage. While Latino culture is still prominent in the Mission District, some believe the all-inclusive air of this event is wiping away cultural heritage.

Susan Cervantes, the Founding Director of Precita Eyes Mural Arts, said the holiday feels more like a second Halloween in San Francisco. She points to the lack of traditional aspects versus the abundance of modern issues presented in the parade.

“It does feel less traditional,” Cervantes said. “Gentrification, immigration, police brutality; this community takes issues with these so they are brought to the celebration.”

Signs against evictions and Prop I were held high during the procession and some altars included anti-gun, anti-genital mutilation and anti-war themes. While some people mourn the tradition, many of the artists involved in the celebrations feel that they bring fresh perspective to a universal day of reflection.

“Día De Los Muertos used to have more of a sense of appropriation, but I think the artist culture and Latino cultures have come together more,” said Jim Haber, a 30-year resident of the Mission District. “It’s like cross pollination.”

One of those artists “cross pollinating” is Denise Doylle, a mixed media artist who, along with Loralai Lamberson, created an altar commissioned by the Marigold Project.

“It’s about multicultural unification with fears and how we transform them into something, anything, while paying homage and remembrance to ancestors,” Doylle said.

Called The Love Labyrinth, the altar guided guests through a maze where the walls were made of strings of different sizes and colors, some knitted for weeks by Doylle. The Love Labyrinth, created by non-Latino artists, was one of the busiest altars of the night. Although it wasn’t traditional by any means, it was able to communicate the cycle of life into death, a traditional aspect of Día De Los Muertos.

If not lost in the makeup painted on non-Latino faces, then the culture could be lost in non-Latino artists’ altars at the park. These altars tend to be more artistic statements than a symbol of remembrance.

Kiri Moth, the graphic designer commissioned to make the posters for the event by the Marigold Project since 2009, is also not of Latina heritage.

“Originally, I just wanted to be involved in the San Francisco Día de Los Muertos event because it’s a beautiful holiday and I love the symbolism,” Moth said. “But I feel an increasing need to consider how my being included in the creation of the poster could be excluding Latino artists whose perspective on the event is more valuable than mine; perspectives that are perhaps more traditional and more connected to the Latino heritage.

“I wanted to show my kids our culture. I think it’s a lost art.” said April Vigil, who has been building altars at the park for 10 years. Although Mexican, she did not grow up celebrating the holiday and now makes a point to build an altar at home and at the park.

For people like Vigil, Día De Los Muertos not only means something to them because of their experiences, it carries the weight of a cultural identity. Something Doylle, Moth and Haber can sense behind their celebrating and touched upon when they all mentioned the issue of cultural appropriation. In order to not appropriate the tradition they take part of, they make themselves fully aware of the celebration and the associated culture in order to not overstep any boundaries.

Churchwell_DIA_009
Sister Hera Sees Candy of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence presents his altar at the Dia de los Muertos Festival of Altars in Garfield Square Nov 2.

“I come from a very European background,” said Sister Hera Sees Candy, a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who sponsored an altar at the park. “Participating for me, is in a sense how to honor things other than colonization. I look towards other cultures.”

The altar, dedicated to deceased Sisters, included candles burning with sacred glitter and the ashes of deceased Sisters, a framed list of names of departed Sisters, orange and red paper mache roses, chocolate, whiskey, a mirror and a comb for anyone looking for some comfort. The Sisters have been participating in Día De Los Muertos since the city officially began celebrating it in the 1970s.

As Sister Hera Sees Candy explained, for the Sisters, this is a community event within a community event because many in the transgender community do not have family that would remember and mourn their deaths. Still, she acknowledges there is a line that should not be crossed.

“I try not to appropriate by not claiming anything other than the opportunity to celebrate with my community, but you have to know the history behind the holiday,” Sister Hera Sees Candy said.

Appropriation, such as wearing a traditional American Indian headdress for Halloween or saying “Bye Felicia,” have been a central pieces of discussion. Now Día De Los Muertos in San Francisco is entering the conversation.

“Day of the Dead was brought into the Mission to reestablish an absence of identity for Chicanos,” said Angelica A. Rodriguez, Gallery Coordinator of The Mission Cultural Center. “Artists here and in Mexico have re-appropriated to contextualize culture”.

Additionally, Rodriguez has felt that the Mission District celebration is simply an excuse for people to paint their faces like skulls and dress up. She has seen the commercialization of the traditional holiday with the commercial success of sugar skulls, but, through her gallery at the Mission Cultural Center, explores understanding how people remember the dead and what type of spaces they are creating to mourn.

Maica Folch, Marigold Project Coordinator for the Public Altars, grew up in Spain and traditionally celebrated the holiday at graveyards with family and others in her community. This year, her altar included a ladder down the side of a tree with lit candles and photos of her deceased loved ones.

She acknowledges that there are a lot more people attending in the most recent years and that the numbers alone have changed the festival. Yet, she insists that Día De Los Muertos means the unification of communities through the same heartbreak. This holiday, since its arrival in San Francisco, has invited all of these differences to its spiritual table.

“It is a community event,” Folch said about her decision to make the altars a public event without official vendors or political agendas. “Everyone is coming together on the same level about death. It is a communal healing process.”

Goodbye Guns: San Francisco’s Last Gun Store Rides Off into the Sunset

Steve Alcairo, general manager at High Bridge Arms checks the sights of his personal rifle during downtime. Photo by Ryan McNulty

By Colin Blake

[dropcap size=”50px”]I[/dropcap]n 1971, Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood, was the ice-cold San Francisco police inspector tasked with catching the city’s serial killer in the blockbuster movie “Dirty Harry.” Callahan solved this problem with astute, yet brute detective work, but ultimately closed the case with a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum revolver.

At first glance, San Francisco might appear as if it welcomed swift, bullet-riddled judgement at the hand of one, but despite box office success, the characterization of Callahan and his methods were fictitious from the start.

A total of five “Dirty Harry” movies were made in San Francisco over a period of 17 years. Each iteration was arguably more and more contrary to the reality of San Francisco police work.

In 1978, two years after the third “Dirty Harry” installment, San Francisco saw real, bloody crime scene photos of two prominent San Franciscans as they lay lifeless on the marble floors of city hall. Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot by former Supervisor Dan White on Nov. 27, 1978 with a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver.

Following White’s trial, after which he served five of a seven-year sentence at Soledad State Prison, the White Night riots protested everything from gay rights to police brutality and the frequency of which guns were used as a primary tool of resolving issues.

Now, San Francisco, in what is a culminating into a politically-sticky event, will be the firearms antithesis of what was portrayed in the movies of yesteryear.

By the end of October, San Francisco’s last legally operated gun store, High Bridge Arms, is shutting its doors for good. The closure will make it impossible to buy firearms legally in the city by removing San Francisco’s last California firearms license holder.

However, High Bridge Arms isn’t being forced to close. The business is willingly closing to spare its customers from perceived intrusions coming from a new batch of gun control ordinances proposed by Supervisor Mark Farrell, which unanimously passed the Board of Supervisors Oct. 27.

High Bridge Arms, the last gun shop in San Francisco only has two guns left to display due to the closing of the shop. (Imani Miller/Xpress)
High Bridge Arms, the last gun shop in San Francisco only has two guns left to display due to the closing of the shop. Photo by Imani Miller

Supervisor Farrell’s regulations require all gun stores in San Francisco to operate multi-angle camera systems that law enforcement can draw upon if necessary.

More than that, the law requires comprehensive record keeping of ammunition sales, including, but not limited to, the purchaser’s full name, address as well as the caliber of the ammunition.

“This isn’t the first attempt to get us out of here,” said Steve Alcairo, general manager of High Bridge Arms. “Everyone is a little tired of fighting this stuff.”

In late 2009, High Bridge Arms closed briefly because the owner, Masashi Takahashi, believed it was too much work. Then, in 2010, High Bridge Arms was set to reopen for business at the same location.

Attempts were initially delayed due to the city holding off retail permits to the store because the neighborhood association Northwest Bernal Alliance claimed the store brought violence to the area.

Sgt. William Coggan, who led the permit committee in 2010, told SFGate that claims of violence were unfounded and that “High Bridge appears to be a reasonably well-run business.”

Permits were issued soon thereafter.

Supervisor Scott Wiener has long supported lessening access to firearms in San Francisco.

“San Francisco supports strict gun control, as do I,” Wiener said.”It’s fine with me for San Francisco not to have a gun shop. Guns whose sole purpose is to shoot people have no place in our city in the hands of civilians.”

[pullquote align=”right”]”San Francisco supports strict gun control, as do I,” Wiener said.”It’s fine with me for San Francisco not to have a gun shop. Guns whose sole purpose is to shoot people have no place in our city in the hands of civilians.”[/pullquote]

Mayor Ed Lee and Chief of Police Greg Suhr had to deal with a high-profile, murder-by-firearm case in July. A .40-caliber handgun was used to murder Kathryn Steinle as she walked with her father on Pier 14.

Steinle, 32, was shot once in the chest by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez in what prosecutors are calling a random event. Remanded until the trial, Lopez-Sanchez could serve the rest of his life in prison if convicted as charged. The family of Steinle is filing a wrongful death suit against the city of San Francisco.

The Steinle case brought the issue of gun control into focus in San Francisco politics.

Second amendment lawyer Doug Friesen said this new legislation would have done nothing to prevent the Steinle shooting, nor would it really get to the heart of gun violence.

“This is really just a feel-good fix,” Friesen said. “The real issue is, the underlying issue, is mental health and being able to treat people who need it.”

If the regulations pass, High Bridge Arms could challenge them by taking the city to court, according to Friesen. However, battling court cases is an expensive, arduous process which many people do not pursue due to financial reasons, no matter the strength of their case.

“The question here is, ‘is this going to be worth it?'” Friesen said.

Even if High Bridge Arms will be no more, establishments beyond gun stores sell firearms and ammunition. Places like sporting good stores and Walmarts have long been selling these accoutrements throughout California and the United States.

A Walmart does not currently stand in San Francisco, but a Big 5 Sporting Goods does. The sporting store does not sell firearms or ammunition.

Mark Smytheman is one-of-two assistant managers at the Big 5 Sporting Goods on Sloat Boulevard.

“No, we stopped selling guns and ammunition about five years ago,” Smytheman said.

Smytheman referenced the city’s 2012 and 2013 Master Fee Schedule of Budget Submissions, which steadily increased the cost to file, purchase and maintain the various licenses associated with selling firearms and ammunition as the reasoning for the decision.

“You can go down the road to Daly City and buy some,” Smytheman continued. Having previously worked at the Daly City branch, Smytheman estimates that half of the people in the store buying firearms were coming from San Francisco.

If not a sporting goods store, a final avenue where guns might be available is a pawn shop. Some pawn shops do have firearms in their business models, however, that is not the case in the city, according to licensing records.

Sunny Martin works at Pawn Shop on Sutter and Polk Streets in San Francisco.

“If a customer brings in a gun or a weapon to pawn, we have to send them elsewhere,” Martin said. “I don’t think we are permitted to, plus it’s company policy.”

The only pawn shops that he knows of that are capable of dealing with firearms are located outside of the city.

San Francisco’s proposed gun control ordinance is not groundbreaking or rare. From Los Angeles to Sacramento, several municipalities have implemented ammunition tracking as well as store surveillance for more than a couple years, with new regulations annually. Despite the growing trend, San Francisco will be unique in that it will be the only city lacking a firearms supply store.

Fear and Loathing on the San Francisco Campaign Trail

Mayoral candidate Stuart Schuffman poses with supporters at his campaign kickoff party at The Independent July 18. Photo by Peter Snarr

 

In the downstairs room of an acquaintance’s house in the Castro District, 34-year-old travel writer and local political commentator Stuart Schuffman is surrounded by friends doubling as political confidants. Their agenda is to figure out Schuffman’s political platform for the upcoming San Francisco mayoral race, which he officially entered on June 9. In energetic bursts of speech Schuffman describes to the group what he wants to accomplish, while his advisors help condense those ideas into digestible campaign topics. Schuffman’s mission is unique in that he will not only be running for mayor, but will also be writing about his experience as he goes, informing the public on what it takes to run for political office in San Francisco.

Hailed as an “underground legend” by the San Francisco Chronicle and the “chief of cheap” by Time Out New York, Schuffman got his start making zines and distributing them throughout San Francisco. Since then Schuffman has ramped up his website to become a destination for an alternative take on San Francisco food, events and politics. He has produced a TV show and written three books, all the while keeping his finger firmly pressed against the pulse of San Francisco culture.

“[San Francisco has] really accepted me for as fucking weird as I am,” says Schuffman. “It’s always been a haven for the misfits and the outlaws. And I’m hoping it’ll continue to be that way. That’s kind of why I’m running for mayor. Because it’s important that the world always has a San Francisco.”

According to political analysis, incumbent Mayor Ed Lee has a massive advantage over the other six candidates, all of which have never held political office. Appointed by the Board of Supervisors in 2011 to replace Gavin Newsom after he was elected Lieutenant Governor, Lee has been scrutinized for receiving campaign funds from Silicon Valley venture capitalists and major developers. Now, with a housing crisis no longer looming but present, Lee’s major criticisms have come from a lack of low-income housing for the the city and a focus on high-cost development, such as a push for the Warriors stadium in Mission Bay.

While Lee has an approval rating of 47 percent according to a December KPIX poll, a politician with enough clout to seriously take him on has not entered the race. Schuffman is utilizing his candidacy to write a column on his experiences and the inner dealings of what it takes to run for mayor in an experiment of gonzo-style journalism.

While San Francisco has a storied history of protest candidates few have changed the nature of races, according to Corey Cook, dean of the School of Public Service at Boise State and former University of San Francisco political science associate professor. Cook cited a write-in campaign by Tom Ammiano in 1999 against Willie Brown as the last successful protest campaign in recent memory, despite Ammiano losing in a runoff.

“The energy was substantial and the election changed,” says Cook.  “I don’t think you’re going to see a change like that this year.”

With his reports, Schuffman is following in the footsteps of Upton Sinclair, an influential muckraking journalist from the early part of the 20th Century who detailed his plans for a 1934 gubernatorial run in California in his book I, Governor of California, and How I Ended Poverty. While Sinclair didn’t win the election, Cook says the report is regarded as an important piece of muckraking journalism.

“It was absolutely informing,” says Cook. “I think it was an interesting report from an interesting novelist, writer, journalist, and activist.”

Schuffman has already written three articles for the San Francisco Examiner, the second of which he details the amount of money it takes to get your name on the ballot, all the while tying in greater issues of class and poverty. His reports are already hitting a chord within a certain demographic of San Franciscans who feel he is exposing a different side of politics.

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Stuart Schuffman sits next to one of his advisors as the group discusses potential campaign platforms in a meeting June 25. Photo by Peter Snarr

 

“I enjoy his columns,” says San Francisco resident Mark Gunson.  “I think they’re hilarious and informative and present an alternative view we are missing at times. Even in San Francisco where we’re supposed to be so fucking liberal.”

Christian Utzman, who runs the Un-scripted Theater Company downtown, also enjoys the reports and likes that they follow a “progressive, independent narrative.”

“I feel like the hip artist scene isn’t being represented,” says Utzman. “If anything it’s being pushed out.”

His reports haven’t been all smooth sailing, however. In what was supposed to be his third posting for the Examiner, an editor’s note appeared before the article stating that Schuffman could not write about his experiences without breaking campaign finance laws, and instead the posting was on another topic.

According to John St. Croix, executive director of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, “referencing his candidacy in his Examiner column would result in an in-kind contribution from the Examiner. These contributions are prohibited if the Examiner is a corporation; if it is not, the value of the contribution cannot exceed $500.”

The California Political Reform Act states that a contribution includes “the granting of discounts or rebates by television and radio stations and newspapers not extended on an equal basis to all candidates for the same office. (Section 82015(c)).”

Essentially, Schuffman can’t publish anything related to his campaign for the Examiner since he is being paid by them. Schuffman can however post to his own website.

“Per FPPC regulation 18215.2, uncompensated posting of his stories on his [personally owned] website, Twitter and Facebook, which reference his candidacy is not an in-kind contribution,” says Croix. “[But he] must comply with the state’s disclaimer requirements.”

Schuffman appears to be taking advantage of this regulation as he posted his fourth report from the campaign trail on July 6.

Through his candidacy, Schuffman wants to push the conversation of the race to talk about issues he cares about, which many of his supporters acknowledge.

“I’m not sure he can win, but yes I think he can influence the conversation,” says Utzman. “People ask what Occupy Wall Street accomplished. Before Occupy people weren’t talking about wealth inequality, but by changing the conversation they won.”

One of the conversations Schuffman wants to influence is the ongoing housing crisis. In recent years San Francisco has seen an economic boom due to the success of Silicon Valley tech companies, which has created an influx of workers to move to the city. This boom caused San Francisco real estate to skyrocket to premium prices and in some cases lead to the eviction of low to middle income families who can no longer afford to live in the city. Policy makers are now having to scramble to come up with solutions that support affordable housing.

One of the proposed solutions was Supervisor David Campos’ Mission moratorium bill, which Schuffman publically supported in a video posted to his website. The bill, which would have halted the private sale of land in the Mission district for 45 days so the city could buy and build affordable housing as well as figure out appropriate future development regulations, failed 7-4 June 2 after seven hours of community comments. The bill will appear on the November ballot for the public to vote on, however.

While the decision didn’t go the way he had hoped, Schuffman said he would like to see more solutions that go outside of a self-regulating market. Schuffman cited a recent decision in Berlin to cap rent rates as something similar he would like to implement as mayor. The German capital, which has seen a skyrocketing rent market of its own, implemented a law which bars landlords from increasing rent more than 10 percent of the local average.

While Lee opposed the moratorium, he has come up with his own solution by proposing a $310 million housing bond which will appear on the November ballot and require a two-thirds majority to pass. If passed the bill will be used to develop 30,000 affordable units by the year 2020, with $50 million set aside for the Mission District.

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Stuart Schuffman address the crowd during his campaign kickoff party at The Independent July 18. Photo by Peter Snarr

 

While Schuffman’s platform isn’t set, in the June meeting he and his advisors talked about addressing three other topics, the first being homelessness in the city, which he calls an epidemic. This involves working with homeless shelters and talking with them to cater to specific needs, as well as providing safe injection sites, wet houses, and navigation centers. Safe injection sites and wet houses allow homeless people and addicts to use drugs and alcohol while receiving services, and navigation centers house homeless people for 10 days while aid workers help them find permanent housing.

Though safe injections sites and wet houses are controversial, Schuffman’s campaign plans to site a successful experiment in Vancouver which allowed safe injection sites and is now being considered in other Canadian cities. The Housing Opportunity, Partnership and Engagement project, a San Francisco based government program, also supports the implementation of wet houses.

By knowing that he isn’t going to win, Schuffman has the luxury of addressing issues that other politicians won’t touch, such as corruption within city politics.

“It’s not just individual acts of corruption, It’s a whole systemic problem,” says Leef Smith, who has been following politics for years and is advising Schuffman. “It’s a legacy thing that’s being passed from generation to generation. A disabling of democracy.”

Schuffman said corruption surfaced shortly after the Mission moratorium failed when another bill designed to regulate Airbnb rentals was delayed for a month. Justification for the delay was said to be so the Board of Supervisors could get the wording on the bill correct and find out what the implications of the law would be. This is essentially what the Mission moratorium bill would have done, and Schuffman feels that because the bill would have negatively impacted developers, it was struck down, while the continence on Airbnb regulation favored the Bay Area startup, which is valued at $25 billion.

During the June 9 Board of Supervisors meeting Supervisor Campos brought up this contradiction and cited it as his reason for voting against the continuance.

“Pauses, as a general rule, are something that I would be open to,” Campos said at the meeting. “But in the context of this neighborhood, this community, the Mission, which was denied a 45 day pause, I say lets act today. And if we can deny the Mission 45 days why should we give Airbnb 30 days?”

To combat corruption, Schuffman wants to implement a new position into the local government to act as a “public advocate,” or someone who oversees complaints and is a third party to investigate possible corruption.  This also includes a reevaluation of the Office of Citizen Complaints, as well as how supervisors are appointed by the mayor when replacing an outgoing member.

Schuffman feels that the heart and soul of San Francisco comes from its artists and nightlife, which he sees moving away from the city, and is something he wants to preserve with the fourth piece of his platform. To combat this, Schuffman wants to protect bars and clubs from conforming to new sound restrictions pushed by developers as well as expand Supervisor London Breeds sound ordinance which was passed May 21.

He hopes to make San Francisco a 4 a.m. city and have BART run for 24 hours a day, which he feels will allow tourists and residents to better enjoy the entertainment offerings of the city. Also incorporated into this would be an effort to beautify the city which involves greater investment to support artists with mural projects, which are a historic tradition of the city.

“Culture is not just this thing that you can buy and put on a wall,” says Schuffman. “Culture comes from a lot of different influences that come together and make something unique and special. So just because you want a piece of the culture, the essence, the smell of it, means you have to deal with the other shit that comes along with it. It takes struggle and strife to make culture.”

While Schuffman hopes to push the conversation of the race, his main objective is to inform with his writing and bring an alternative voice to the political process.

“It’s hard to do a straight ahead campaign,” says Schuffman. “It’s not going to work. I know that, I’m not an idiot. But to do this and explore what it’s like and shed light on the process and how ridiculous the process is. And also calling motherfuckers out as motherfuckers.”

To be able to vote in the San Francisco election you must register within the city and county of San Francisco 15 days before election day on Nov. 3, 2015.

Marriage equality supporters share testimonials on the historic Supreme Court ruling

A historic and emotional Supreme Court decision took place June 26, 2015 that swept the country and legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. The ruling coincided with the annual Pride weekend celebration which brought thousands of supporters to San Francisco, which has been a bastion for members of the LGBT community for decades. Here the testimonials of couples and supporters of the landmark decision during the weekend celebrations.

 

The Sound of Odd Numbers: Bobey

The second installment of a larger project
by Lorisa Salvatin

Layers of strange time signatures and bouncy melodies color the music of Brendan Page, known also as Bobey. Page said his move to San Francisco has allowed him to experience a multitude of different genres, with indie being the most influential in his music.

Label: None

Sounds like: Battles, Bernhard Wagner, The Mercury Program

Random Facts:

  • Bobey attends SF State and has played a number of shows at The Depot.
  • Like Tera Melos, Bobey also hails from Sacramento.
  • Page came up with the name Bobey, by combining David Bowie and Toby Froud’s name while watching Labyrinth with his friend.

Some bands/artists they like: Foals, Don Caballero, This Town Needs Guns

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Behind the Face: Mark Ruissi

Contributed by: Katie Lewellyn

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is an order of Queer Nuns in San Francisco whose goal is to help the community, promote human rights and spiritual enlightenment. The Sisters believe that “all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and use humor and irrelevant wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”

My fellow journalist friend, Katie Lewellyn, approached me with doing a story on the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. We decided that we wanted to meet the people behind the faces. Here is the first installment of Behind the Face of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Meet Mark Ruissi

Mark Ruissi. Photo by Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine
Mark Ruissi. Photo by Katie Lewellyn/Xpress Magazine

Mark Ruissi, also known as Mary Ralph PH, Proper Nun, has been a member of the Sisters for seven years. Ruissi was “in process” which is the Sisters way of initiation for two years before becoming a full fledge Proper Nun.

During Ruissi’s process he found the hardest part of becoming a Sister was the drag part. Ruissi had never dabbled in the art of drag and putting on false eyelashes and walking around in high heels  was all new to him. He also had the emotional challenge of wearing women clothes and makeup in public. Today Ruissi finds it easier to put on his make-up, stating that he is a pro at applying false lashes, but decided to leave the heel wearing to the professionals.

Ruissi shows pictures of himself dressed as Mary Ralph PN. Photo by: Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine
Ruissi shows pictures of himself dressed as Mary Ralph PN. Photo by: Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine

Currently Ruissi is the Dean of Education at the Ministry Program for the Sisters, as well as the archive mistress. Ruissi main duties with the Sisters is to file, record organizations and do educational training with the new Sisters entering. Ruissi also prides himself at being a serious fundraiser for the Sisters. Ruissi has personally raised money for fellow Sisters that were experiencing legal troubles and needed help financially, as well as, raising thousands of dollars for scholarships provided by the Sisters.

Ruissi takes being a Sister as a professional job, even if it doesn’t pay his rent. He tries to make all the new Sisters he teaches understand this concept because being a Sister isn’t like any other community service project. His biggest message to the new initiates is “don’t do this unless you mean it,” because being a Sister is a lot of work but the benefits, in Ruissi’s eyes are worth it.

Photo by: Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine
Photo by: Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine

When asked what he believes the main goal of the Sister’s of Perpetual Indulgence was all about, Ruissi replied with “creating a supportive community.” Ruissi said that the Sisters were the knights in shining armor back in 1978 after Harvey Milk was shot. He said that the queer community was devastated and homosexuals were “undesirable.” Through the violence and despair, the Sisters rose and really brought the community together by being supportive and “cheeky.”

For Ruissi the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is his Elk Club, a club that he loves to be apart of and doesn’t see himself leaving any time soon.

Photo by: Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine
Photo by: Katie Lewellyn/ Xpress Magazine

Practice Makes Perfect

Geoff Luttrell, owner of SF Guitarworks in San Francisco, works on a guitar. (Henry Perez/ Xpress Magazine)
Geoff Luttrell, owner of SF Guitarworks, works on a guitar. (Henry Perez/ Xpress Magazine)

Geoff Luttrell crouches at his workbench, squinting hard at the neck of the soon-to-be guitar he is drilling holes in.

Luttrell has owned SF Guitarworks repair shop in the city since 2001. It began as a small-scale operation, headed by Luttrell and one other technician. More than a decade later, the shop is home to five full-time guitar experts and one part-time amp repairman. Collectively, they serve a base of more than three hundred.

He opened the shop more than ten years ago after being laid off from a tech job. His reaction was a bit eccentric.

“I decided I’m not going to ever interview again,” he says. “I’m never interviewing for another job. Period.”

After receiving subpar service from repair shops in the city, he decided that he could do it better. So that became his mission. He attended The Fret Works guitar school in Canada for two months, then came back to the city, determined to begin his own shop. Though he had the drive, he admits his strategy wasn’t full proof.

“It was a pretty feeble plan, really,” he says. “My sole market research was calling a busy shop in town and saying ‘How long to get a setup done?’”

When he was told a guitar tune-up for his instrument would take three weeks, Luttrell decided there was enough work in town to draw from. He was already a machinist who had built bicycle frames, and had worked as a certified auto technician in the city. These building blocks would add depth to his work, he decided.

Besides, he wanted to do something he enjoyed and would challenge him. And it has.

Just as he hoped, the complexities of starting a business and of navigating detailed guitar repairs challenged Lutrell in almost every way possible. Many customers have collections of guitars and come to the shop for fine-tuning, and detail work.

Often, the tasks are not straightforward, like simple restringing or part replacements. But he enjoys finding the solution to each guitar and takes pleasure in the hunt for some unknown mechanical issue.  He loves repairing guitars.

“It encompasses so many different aspects of craft: woodworking, metalwork, electronics, soldering, electrical schematics, finish-work and aesthetics,” he says. “It pulls from a lot of different aspect I have expertise in. And then you use it for something awesome – music.”

Sometimes, the mechanist will work on one guitar for a few days. Other times, like for a simple tune-up, the task requires only forty-five minutes. But for Luttrell, there is not exactly an off-switch when it comes to his work. To his best estimation, he has worked on at least seven thousand guitars.

He says he has tried to picture what it would look like if all the instruments he has done work on were in one room – or if they would even fit in one.

“There’s a lot of blurring in my world,” he says. “When I go home, I build guitars for fun, and I work on guitars all day. So it’s kind of insane, really.

He has done work for guitarists Steve Vai, Bob Mould, and Camper Van Beethoven. But, he does not geek out, he says. When he has assisted famous musicians like these, his mindset is more of a “let’s get this done” versus some type of hero worship. Still, the mechanic is a huge fan of Van Halen and Beck. Luttrell played bass and guitar in more than a few bands as a teenager, whose music was a tribute to exactly their type of power and sound.   

For the amount of time Luttrell spends with the instruments each day, he has very little time to actually play them. That does not bother him too much though. His appreciation of music has shifted over the years. He still plays bass or guitar from time to time, but he rather be working on one now; making it sound better and play smoother, he would rather be perfecting it.

The craft has a lot of dimension, Luttrell points out. Some repairs are completely invisible. One of the most challenging, but fun, aspects of his work is the accountability he has to his customers. When a customer comes in about an issue with their guitar, Luttrell assesses the problem and then a guarantees them he can fix it right up. This can get scary.

Occasionally, a mechanical problem is so minute or complex, he does not exactly know where to start. Nonetheless, Luttrell offers his guarantee. This would seem like bad business, but this has worked for him and his shop. So far, he has been able to figure out every problem a customer has trusted him with.  But Luttrell’s love of his work goes farther than making customers happy. His work has added dimension to his life, but it has also done something beautifully simple – added music to the world.

“It’s added a depth that I didn’t have before because I have this craft that I think is a noble and long tradition,” he says. “I feel like Luthiery adds to the world. It doesn’t take away.”

Online Radio: Changing the Broadcasting Landscape

The "On Air" radio sign at Mutiny Radio. Mutiny Radio is one of many internet-radio stations in San Francisco that aren't regulated by the FCC. (Ryan Leibrich / Xpress Magazine)
The “On Air” radio sign at Mutiny Radio. Mutiny Radio is one of many internet-radio stations in San Francisco that aren’t regulated by the FCC. (Ryan Leibrich / Xpress Magazine)

In 2003, after nearly ten years broadcasting on 93.7 FM out of the basement of a residential building in the Castro, SF Liberation had their studio raided and their broadcasting equipment confiscated by the Federal Communications Commission.

The studio was raided because SF Liberation was a pirate radio station—a station operating without the permission of the FCC.

At the time, the Board of Supervisors voted to support the station, stating that SF Liberation had “provided an invaluable public service to the City and County of San Francisco for the past ten years” by providing a place for people whose voices were often excluded from corporate media as well as providing access to a diverse group of residents, artists, community groups, and public officials, but alas; the FCC had spoken and SF Liberation went the way most things did in 2003 and began streaming online.

The radio you listen to in your car works like this: radio waves are spread through an antenna. These waves have different frequencies, and by turning that little dial in your car to a specific frequency, you will pick up a specific signal. Radio stations operate on megahertz frequencies, so when you hear an announcer say, “You’re listening to 96.5 KOIT,” what they are really saying is “You are listening to an FM radio signal at a frequency of 96.5 ‘millions of cycles per second,’ with call letters assigned to them by the Federal Communications Commission after they pay a fee that can range anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000.”

The FCC controls every form of telecommunication in the United States, including radio. They determine what megahertz frequencies stations operate at, the channel number they receive, and monitor stations for any “indecent” content. The FCC is also responsible for issuing hefty fines if any of the rules concerning broadcasting are broken.

Since SF Liberation was forced online, many stations in San Francisco have gone digital as well. Some had their FM frequencies abruptly taken away through bureaucratic measures, some were born and have only existed online by choice, and since the FCC is not currently accepting any applications for new FM radio stations, some have no other choice but to stream online. But no matter how they ended up on the Internet, these stations are part of a growing group of community radio stations giving San Francisco residents access to a platform from which their voice (or their favorite bands) can be heard.

A few blocks past Mission Street, down the glorified open-ended alley that is Capp Street, and in-between sleeping homeless people and their wares, is an unassuming beige building with a sturdy looking gate in front of the door. You would never guess, but behind that gate and up a flight of stairs is an adult clubhouse of sorts called the Secret Alley. The Secret Alley is home to the offices of filmmakers, artists, a guy who does drone photography, and a semi-recent inductee into San Francisco’s community radio scene, Bff.fm.

Launched in September of 2013, Bff.fm is the brainchild of thirty-eight-year-old Amanda Guest, aka Cosmic Amanda. For a station that is not even two years old, Bff is doing relatively well. They have won “SF’s Best New Radio Station” from The Bold Italic, “Best New Internet Radio Station” from SF Weekly, and been voted “Best Radio Station” in San Francisco in SF Weekly’s annual Reader’s Poll.

“One really cool thing about the station is we have people just on all different points in the spectrum as far as their involvement in music and their involvement in radio. We have people like [DJ] Sequoia, who has never done anything in radio before but he’s just really, really into radio,” says Guest.

DJs pay a membership fee of $50 a month to contribute toward rent and streaming costs, and Bff.fm also relies on monthly donations from members of the community to keep everything going.

Guest moved to San Francisco two years ago for a change of scenery after growing tired of her life in suburban Massachusetts. In between her job doing online marketing and social media for a publishing company on the East Coast, Guest had a brief stint at Mutiny Radio, also located in the Mission. After her time there she decided to realize a longtime dream of hers and start her own station.

“Obviously there’s a lot of tension in the city now and things are changing and not everyone’s happy about it, so then it kind of became like a challenge, like can you start something new that’s creative  and that isn’t fueled by a ton of money and that’s like real? So now I want to do it even more,” says Guest.

Radio DJ Steve Foxx prepares to host his show at BFF.fm headquarters. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)
Radio DJ Steve Foxx prepares to host his show at BFF.fm headquarters. (Martin Bustamante/ Xpress Magazine)

Bff.fm broadcasts more thanto over sixty weekly shows, some of which have a single host, and some that operate with teams of up to four people, says Guest. Most of the shows play music and music only, but there are a few talk shows on air. There are also shows that are off-shoots of San Francisco publications like the Examiner, SF Weekly, Mission Local, and the now-defunct SF Bay Guardian, whose show’s future remains unclear.

One host, Steve Foxx, ended up at Bff.fm after a lengthy hiatus from terrestrial radio.

While Foxx attempted to break back into the terrestrial radio market, he came to the realization that Internet radio was becoming a “thing.” Despite being in talks with a couple terrestrial stations, Foxx decided to try his hand at Internet radio.

“Like, I left radio in ’97 and I couldn’t…there was no way for me to just go about finding a spot. No one would hire me for like one shift a week and I’d have to be playing what other people wanted. And then I Googled San Francisco internet radio and Bff came up,” says Foxx. He has been at Bff.fm ever since.

Foxx hosts a show that airs on Sundays from 10 p.m. to midnight, appropriately titled the Midnight Prowl. He prefers this spot because it does not interfere with his weekday activities, which include teaching at the Academy of Art and running his film production company. On his show you will hear everything from Radiohead, to Rocky Erickson and Dillinger Escape Plan, all part of Foxx thoughtful approach to crafting the music that comprises the “eclectic stew” that is the Midnight Prowl.

“I think someday it would be really cool to get an actual terrestrial signal and do more traditional radio,” says Guest. “But we’re finding that we’re finding and growing an audience online and it’s been really interesting that we’ve been able to do that. And I feel like because we are online we don’t have to abide by any FCC laws or things like that so it gives us a lot more freedom to be creative and to let everyone just kind of do their own thing. Sometimes you get so excited about a song you drop an F-bomb, and that’s okay.”

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

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

Words and Photos by Sara Gobets

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

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

Hibbity Dibbity and the anatomy of a jam band

(From left to right: Parker Simon, Chris Braun, Tom Relling, and Jack Gehegan of Hibbity Dibbity. (Frank Leal/ Xpress Magazine)
(From left to right: Parker Simon, Chris Braun, Tom Relling, and Jack Gehegan of Hibbity Dibbity. (Frank Leal/ Xpress Magazine)

San Francisco band, Hibbity Dibbity, is made up of members Jack Gehegan, Parker Simon, Tom Relling, and Chris Braun. The four came together about two years ago after Tom and Chris started writing songs together in Chris’s basement. Since then, they have played at countless venues in the city, raised money for a band bus, and toured with the bus playing at venues all over the country.

Their sound, commonly known as, Swamp, Funk, and Rock & Roll, is that one-of-a-kind, San Francisco jam-band sound that takes you back to the days of Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and other Bay Area Rock and Roll legends.

The band talks about exactly what it means to be a jam band and what sets them apart from the rest.