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A Yawn Worth Yelling make noise in local scene

Brayden Deskins (right) and Tyler Boyd (left), singers of the band A Yawn Worth Yelling, perform during their Play Pretend EP Party at Bottom of the Hill. Photos by Qing Huang


Story by Lupita Uribe

Infectious basslines thumped below warm vocal and guitar melodies, while drum beats begged for you to tap along to their off rhythms. The sound of Bay Area alternative rock band, A Yawn Worth Yelling, swiveled into the indie pop realm and brought a spot of sunshine into the oncoming winter with the release of their new EP, Play Pretend.

The four-piece group, sometimes six-piece when performing, features Brayden Deskins on guitar and backing vocals, Johanness Heine on bass, Tyler Boyd on lead vocals and guitar, and Taylor stover on drums in studio, but during live performances the band recruits Rober Tanali and Ryan Powell. Although the latter don’t take part in any of the writing or recording process, the band still considers them important components of A Yawn Worth Yelling. The core four have known each other since high school, having grown up in the San Jose area, and have released five records – two full lengths and three extended plays.

Their latest piece, Play Pretend, was a developmental process. A year in writing, and approximately 20 songs later, the band was able to produce a five-track record that contains what the band considers their best work yet.

“The era of the bad stuff was everything you’ve heard until now,” Boyd said half-jokingly as his band mates giggled in the background.

Boyd describes their first LP’s, Hieme Bellum, recording process as a phase where the band would write songs and record them as is. There was minimal refinement, according to Boyd.

“There were songs in there that I, as the drummer, had only practiced a couple of times, and we went into the studio,” Stover said. “There were songs I didn’t really remember my parts on, when I was in the studio. I sort of made the parts up.”

Brayden Deskins, singer of the band "A Yawn Worth Yelling," performs during "Play Pretend EP Party" at Bottom of the Hill, a club at 17th Street in San Francisco Sunday, Nov.15. (Qing Huang/Photo)
Brayden Deskins, singer of the band “A Yawn Worth Yelling,” performs during “Play Pretend EP Party” at Bottom of the Hill.

This process was hit or miss for the band. “Sometimes it turned out great,” Stover said, as he explained they’d done something similar on their first EP 1,000.  It turned out better than they expected, although he admits it wasn’t the best approach for their first LP.

“I would agree that was the ‘bad’ stage we needed to get out of our system, and thank god we did it early on,” Stover said.

Their previous work was all self-recorded, and not always planned, but Play Pretend was the result of a new approach. They had a set plan: to have five songs that worked well together, and bring in a producer to get an outsider perspective on their music.

The band had to ameliorate their sound a little more this time around. Since they were not self-recording, they no longer had the leisure of going through endless revisions and re-recording. Having a limited budget and only specific days allotted, four to be exact, in a studio demands a quicker process of polishing the sound, according to Stover.

“You have to refine quickly,” Stover said. “You have to be really smart about what you’re putting in the music and how much time you’re putting into everything.”

Having a producer this time around also made a difference in the creative process as well.

“You think you know what’s best, and you think you know what’s awesome just because you’re the one who did it, or you’re the one who came up with it, but then the producer will be the one to tell you, ‘no, that’s a shitty idea, don’t do that,’” Boyd said with a laugh.

Although there were times the producer blocked some ideas that the band was keen for, his expertise and instruments were overall beneficial and essential to the Play Pretend production process, according to the band.

“(His input) made a huge difference on the impact of the song,” Stover said. “Not to mention the gear, and his ability to record stuff really quick just saved us a lot of time and money, and made us sound better than we’ve been able to ever make ourselves sound.”

From left: Brayden Deskins, singer of the band " A Yawn Worth Yelling," Tyler Boyd, singer, and Taylor Stover, drummer, present their latest EP, "Play Pretend," at Bottom of the Hill, a club at 17th Street in San Francisco Sunday, Nov.15. (Qing Huang/Photo)
From left: Brayden Deskins, singer of the band A Yawn Worth Yelling, Tyler Boyd, singer, and Taylor Stover, drummer, present their latest EP, Play Pretend, at Bottom of the Hill.

Along with its release of Play Pretend, the band’s other big move this year was a literal one, to Los Angeles. They hope this move will help them break through in the industry a little more.

“We figure: it’s the jugular of the music industry, and we want to get our foot more in the door,” Deskins said.

Although they admit LA has a lot of opportunities, they don’t think the Bay Area is a bad scene to be in, just different. They also like the appeal that a lot of their favorite bands have broken through from LA.

“We figured if we got involved in the scene there, then we’ve got a good start, and we can probably forge a name for ourselves,” Deskins said. “If we can make a name for ourselves in LA, we can make a name for ourselves anywhere.”

Stover adds that the band was part of a publishing company that had all of their bands, including A Yawn Worth Yelling, play in LA for executives this past summer. Since then, the band has had many opportunities pop up, such as acquiring a manager with MIH Entertainment who is based out of LA.

After signing to MIH, they began to receive more opportunities, according to Deskins. Trips to Los Angeles became routine, and to avoid the constant commute, the band decided to give the city a chance.

“(There is) nothing wrong with the Bay Area at all,” Stover said. “We want that to still be our hometown, and we want to still have kick ass shows and all that.”

As for their plans for the future: schmoozing with the Kardashians. The band lives 5.4 miles away from the famous tv-family. “We can see it from where we live, and we are hoping to get an in with Kanye,” they said jokingly.

But in reality, they are set to play a few shows in the Bay Area and Southern California, as well as plans for videos and other social media content. They also hope to continue “campaigning” their latest release and becoming more established in music scene — in both Northern and Southern California.

“But mostly the Kanye thing,” Deskins said.

SF to NYC Comparison

By Ashley Goldsmith

In 2012 Businessweek.com named San Francisco as America’s best city.  The vast employment opportunities, many ways in which one can spend their disposable income and the cityscape are a few of the many reasons why San Francisco was chosen. The city’s sudden rise in popularity is reminiscent of another major American city nearly one hundred years ago.

During the 1920s New York City was the place to be. The economy was booming, unemployment was low and many Americans were moving from rural areas to urban centers. San Francisco has seen a similar upswing in the past several years thanks to the growing tech boom in the Bay Area.

The Roaring Twenties was a time of prosperity across major cities in the U.S. but more specifically in New York City. Between 1920 and 1930 there was a 19 percent increase in the city’s population which meant that there was a need for major infrastructure changes. This need created jobs in construction and transportation that had not been necessary before.

According to the New York Transit Museum, between 1913 and 1931 the majority of the subway system that New Yorkers use today was built. The Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building had both been completed by 1930 which created construction jobs throughout the late 1920s.

In 21st century San Francisco, hoodies have replaced flapper dresses and smartphones have replaced the radio as a tool for mass communication, but the expansion and success of 1920s Manhattan has been replicated in many ways.

Between 1950 and the late 1980s, the population of SF was decreasing steadily until 1990 when it increased by nearly 45,000 people because of the Internet boom. By 1995 the Internet had become available for commercial use, allowing for the first generation of tech startups to emerge. Amazon, eBay and Craigslist paved the way for companies like Google and Facebook in the Bay Area.

A similar boom has happened again. Between 2010 and 2014 the population of San Francisco increased by over 47,000 people. Exceeding the increase during the first Internet boom just four years into the decade. The unemployment rate of San Francisco has steadily remained below the average in California. Over the past year it has stayed below four percent and is now at 3.4 percent while the state is at 5.7 percent. Jobs in transportation, construction, business and hospitality have all increased significantly over the past year according to California’s Employment Development Department.

These jobs have likely become available for the same reasons that they did during the Roaring Twenties: when the population of a city increases, the need to improve infrastructure also increases.

A report released by Mayor Ed Lee in May, shows a five-year plan for the city to build more housing, expand public transportation and develop neighborhoods.

While San Francisco hasn’t quite turned into The Great Gatsby, the decadence of the era has been mirrored in the Bay Area in many ways. According to Michael Flamm, Professor of History at Ohio Wesleyan University, in the 1920s there was a shift in America that took emphasis away from careers as an individual’s defining quality and instead placed more emphasis on possessions.

“External qualities have become more important than internal qualities,” Flamm said in an interview with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “That’s really one of the significant cultural changes that we see during this interwar period, the great emphasis on consumerism and on consumption.”

According to Lehrman, the birth of consumerism led to the increase in large advertising firms in New York City that used psychological techniques to market products to convince consumers that using these items will positively affect how others view them.

In San Francisco, tech companies have created smartphones and platforms like social media that have become new status symbols. Expect to get some side-eye when you tell someone that you don’t have an iPhone or a Facebook account. The boom in consumerism in America has developed further thanks to the products that are being creating by companies in the Bay Area.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, San Franciscans spend more money eating out than any other city in the country. Smartphone apps like Postmates and Eat24 make this form of consumerism an easy way to spend money from the comfort of home. These are just a few of the ways in which San Francisco has turned itself into such a desirable place to live and a consumer-driven city.

Living in the Bay Area can sometimes feel like you’re living in the future, peppered with remnants of emerging cities past.

Building Upward

By Colin Blake

San Francisco is getting taller. In fact, if the city’s 15-tallest buildings were laid end-to-end, they would be over 300-feet taller than the Golden Gate Bridge is long. This growth spurt isn’t slowing down, but accelerating.

San Francisco is in its fifth-straight year of economic and population growth, according to the city’s five-year financial plan released in May. What’s more, Mayor Ed Lee’s 2015-2020 city prospectus expects continued growth for both variables in the next five years.

As a result, city planners have continued dotting the Financial District and South of Market skyline with high-rise apartments and office buildings to accommodate San Francisco’s continuing expanse – resuscitating an old term: Manhattanization.

Manhattanization refers to the symptoms of vertical growth within a dense city, much like Manhattan experienced in the 1930s, a period in time which saw the completion of some of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Empire State Building.

“The term is very specifically talking about tall buildings blocking views, blotting out the sun and shadowing the streets, just like in Manhattan,” said John King, the architecture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to King, who has covered city-planning-related issues for nearly two decades, San Francisco must build to keep pace with its economic and population growth, and has been doing so for a while. Much of what is visible this decade was set in motion in the last.

In 2005, then Mayor Gavin Newsom signed the Rincon Hill Plan, which, in conjunction with the Transbay Terminal Project and other neighborhood upgrowth from the period, is expected to add a total of 6,620 new units of housing to the area once fully developed.

The Transbay development, the larger of the two, aims to transform the South of Market neighborhood into a dense residential and mixed-use zone, creating 4,400 units of housing and 6 million square-feet of new office space.

Planners made this possible by up zoning, a special exception in the Transbay plan which changed the permissible height of structures in the area to allow for towers as tall as 550 feet.

For the Rincon Hill Plan, street-side housing, not on the crest of the hill, was up zoned to allow for eight-story buildings. This effectively tripled or quadrupled the units of housing many lots could accommodate. Two luxury apartment buildings occupy the top of Rincon Hill now – one was completed in 2008, the other in 2014. Together they have added 709 units of housing to San Francisco.

“San Francisco has targets set by the regional planning agency and the state to try and produce the amount of housing needed to keep pace with job growth,” King said.

In the past five years, nearly 45,000 new residents have called San Francisco their home. However, in that same period of time only 8,000 units of housing were added to San Francisco’s total housing stock of nearly 380,000 units.

In 2014, 91 percent of all new housing units added to the market were structures containing 20 units or more. Comparatively, in the 1990s only 60 percent of new housing stock contained structures that housed 20 or more units.

In fact, many were in the hundreds and one, the NEMA Luxury Apartments in the South of Market District, contains over 750 units. In the south of the city, the Schlage Lock Project, approved in 2014, will create over 1,670 residential units in the Visitacion Valley.

Even with construction elsewhere, the city’s 2014 housing stock analysis said that 74 percent of all new housing units were built in three downtown districts: the Financial, South of Market and Mission Bay Districts.

“There’s no turning back in the downtown area,” King said. “It’s really localized there. It’s not like the city is planning a 55-story building in the Outer Sunset District.”

For 2015, 88 percent of planned construction will consist of structures containing 20 units or more. The planning department stops differentiating beyond a unit count of 20, but building proposal records show many to be several hundred units in capacity.

According to King, these larger buildings have the benefit of bringing people closer to transportation, city services and jobs. The drawback being, to some, is that the look and feel of the city is completely changed.

“If you’re going to live in a city, you can’t expect your view not to change,” King said.

One view that is not changing is Sue Vaughan’s.

“We recognize the need of the city to prevent sprawl,” Vaughan, the chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club, said. “But we support the idea of smart development. You have to balance development with open space.”

On Nov. 3, San Francisco approved Proposition D, which granted approval for the San Francisco Giants to develop Pier 48. The 28-acre waterfront project, also known as the Mission Rock Development, has drawn criticism from the Sierra Club.

The primary concern for Vaughan and the Sierra Club is the walling off of the waterfront properties which would ultimately reduce open space and visual intrigue.

“They want to put a 10-story parking structure right on the waterfront,” Vaughan said. “This is the 21st century. San Francisco cannot be catering to cars while not making open space a priority.”

In the development plan the Giants will be able to exceed the height limitations currently placed on the site: no building greater than one story. This voter-approved zoning exception will allow three mixed-use towers to be raised to 240-feet tall. Furthermore, 10 adjacent acres will be zoned for multi-use development up to 190 feet. This development is expected to create anywhere from 1,000 to 1,950 units of housing and 3,100 new parking spaces for cars.

According to Vaughan, San Francisco leadership fast-tracks development plans without thoroughly looking at environmental or aesthetic consequences of the projects.

“The reason Manhattan is beautiful is because of the skyline,” Vaughan said. “The reason San Francisco is beautiful is because of the bay. We won’t be able to see the bay if we build like Manhattan.”

Jasper Rubin, the Chair of the Urban Studies and Planning Program at San Francisco State University and a former member of the city’s planning department, said the effort to build upwards has been going on for more than 50 years.

“Maybe the first example of Manhattanization in San Francisco would be the construction of the Fontana Towers,” Rubin said. “The neighbors were incensed because it blocked their views of the bay.”

The Fontana Towers, located west of Ghirardelli Square, were built in 1962. They are both 230-feet tall and feature 18 floors of residential space. According to Rubin, this new construction really struck a chord with residents of the time and, perhaps for the first time, differentiated the mentality of residents of San Franciscans and Manhattanites.

“Manhattan was always tall, it was always big, very antithetical to the idea of San Francisco’s connection with nature,” Rubin said. “When you live here, you feel connected to nature because of the hills, or because you have water on three sides.”

According to Rubin, early challenges facing city planners were devising ways to accentuate the natural topography of San Francisco, which is actually adorned with nearly 50 hills that make getting a view of the bay easy.

“Eventually, the planning department realized if we are going to build tall buildings, we need to build them at the top of tall hills,” Rubin said. “When you build on the hill, it maintains the notion that there is a hill there.”

The city adhered to this principle until approval and subsequent completion of the Transamerica Pyramid in 1972. At 853-feet, the Transamerica building is San Francisco’s tallest building. It boasts 48 floors and lies in the northern part of the Financial District.

“That threw a lot of people off,” Rubin said. “This is one of several reasons why San Francisco passed Proposition M in 1985. People saw a lot of tall buildings going up around them.”

Prop M amended the city’s Office Development Annual Limit Program. From that point forward, any office space project greater than 25,000 square-feet required additional square-footage to be reviewed and approved by the planning department.

As a result, the planning department now has the discretion to allocate 950,000 square-feet of additional office space per year, and any unused allocatable square-footage is carried over to subsequent years for disbursement. The planning department could technically allocate two Transamerica buildings worth of office space every year.

It’s really the office buildings that are driving overall growth in San Francisco. Of San Francisco’s 50 tallest buildings, 35 of them are offices, with nothing under 400-feet tall appearing on the list. As the tech economy burgeons, the supporting infrastructure to house the workers will have to grow as well.

“The thing is, it brings more demand for housing,” Rubin said. “They want to live closer to their jobs.”

What’s more, there are currently nine towers under construction, mostly in SoMa, that are greater than 400-feet tall, most notably the Salesforce Tower. Once completed, the Salesforce Tower will be the tallest building in San Francisco, reaching a height of 1070 feet.

On top of that, developers have submitted proposals for 15 more buildings greater than 400-feet in height. The tallest of these buildings would be 905-feet tall and contain one million square-feet of office space as well as 111 residential units.

This development may eventually spread to areas like the Marina, Western Addition and Sunset Districts as the Board of Supervisors debates relaxing height and density restrictions in those neighborhoods with a so-called density bonus program.

“There is no clear statement in any policy document, and there is nothing in the city’s charter that says, ‘OK, we’ve built enough, there’s a limit here,’” Rubin said. “Who knows if it’s good for San Francisco.”

All the while, debate will continue as to what the city is starting to resemble.

“We are always comparing ourselves to a city we don’t want to be,” Rubin said.

Merging of Two Departments Limits Choreographers in New Moves Showcase

David Spain, left, and Dominique Turner, right, performs during the showcase competition in the McKenna Theater. Photography by Imani Miller


By Fayola Perry

Senior Matthew McKines III’s 19 student dancers entered the stage, clad in all black and bearing an uncanny resemblance to the models in the second season of Kanye West’s Yeezy fashion show. They performed a ballet piece that McKines choreographed in the course Dance 461: Advanced Choreography. The piece, titled “Royals,”  is a story of love, loss, battle, betrayal and overcoming it all, according to McKines. The dancers came out with their arms framing their heads like busts in a museum casing, forming perfect right angles at their elbows on either side. They held their shoulders back and pushed their chests out, strong and regal. As the dancers moved through eight counts and the piece came to an end, the anxiety on Mckines’ face never faltered.

Mckines is competing for a spot in this year’s New Moves Choreography Showcase titled “Emergence” against 13 other choreographers. The 14 choreographers have gathered their dancers in McKenna theater to compete in a final showing of their pieces for a coveted spot on the paid by patron program.

The showcase usually serves as a capstone course and states in its syllabus that each choreographer is to create a piece that will be performed on stage in a showcase that patrons of the theater come to see every year. For the first time in the history of the showcase, the department is not letting all students enrolled in the Dance 461 course perform their pieces in the program that patrons pay to attend.The changes have somewhat shifted the energy of the program and have caused the morale of the group to diminish, according to dance students.

“It’s just made it a more stressful process because now there is a chance that all of this work will have ultimately been in vain,” McKines said.

The tensions within the program are multi-faceted and can be felt not only among the dancers, but between the choreographers and their dancers, between the choreographers and one another and between the other dance teachers and the student body of the theatre and dance programs as well.

“Each teacher that I have, independently of one another has addressed their classes that have nothing to do with New Moves on the fact that they can tell that their general student body is like depressed, just down in the dumps, just upset and unable to focus, and things are slipping,” McKines said.

This year, the department has limited the showcase to seven pieces — a huge shock to the student choreographers. There will be three main shows where patrons pay to attend with the chosen seven pieces being showcased. All of the remaining choreographers pieces will be shown at a Saturday matinee performance for free on December 5. The new director of the combined program, Todd Roehrman, feels that he’s doing his best to allocate the resources between the two programs and their productions.

“So actually every piece that’s in the class is being given an opportunity to perform on stage in concert in front of a live audience. So nobody is being told they don’t have that opportunity. Every single person. In the performing arts as you know, there is a process that’s called audition. You audition for a role, not everyone gets the role, right,” Roehrman said.

Victoria Robles, left, and May Wells, right, embrace each other while performing during their showcase competition in McKenna Theater

Many students feel like they should have been given a heads-up before enrolling in the class or before investing so much of their time in a one unit class that is no longer rewarding them with a final performance of the caliber they initially anticipated.

“The sole purpose of doing something like this is to have a final piece on stage and ready for multiple audiences and multiple nights,” McKines said.

Students in the dance program understand that resources are limited, and that each show requires a lot of man-power and that means there will be cuts, but they can’t seem to understand why the cuts appear to be mainly at the expense of the students in the dance program.

“We got a general answer of lack of resources, but that answer kinda came, we feel, arbitrarily and without us really seeing the numbers and seeing what could really be done. Especially if the 14 of us, the choreographers, we’re all a very smart, hard-working group that are kinda close-knit and very in support of each other, are all willing to compromise,” MicKines said. “There are things that could have been done.”

The new format of the showcase is one of many changes for the dance department, which dealt with the closure of one of their studios recently. The dance program has now been integrated with the theatre program, and many students in the dance program are feeling like their resources and needs are no longer seen as a priority.

A main reason that has been given for the changes is that there are simply not enough resources to accommodate a show of that size with multiple performance dates. Each production put on by the dance program requires input from the theatre program. The performances and even the rehearsals require theatre students to work on lighting, sound, stage transitions, costuming, makeup other tasks that are integral to any production.

One of the biggest resources creating conflict between the two programs is space. Earlier this year, the dance program lost one of its studios because it was located on top of a theatre, and the pitter patter of feet during a rendition of a theatre was very distracting. That studio was repurposed to serve as a museum for some artifacts the school had on display elsewhere. The dance program is now in the process of getting a new studio, but in creating this new studio, the Brown Bag Theatre and a few other spaces had to be closed, causing both programs to be displaced. Roehrman explained that the new studio will be a shared space for both programs but has cost the theatre program some of their rehearsal spaces.

Dominique Turner, left, and David Spain, right, perform May Wells’s showcase piece in the McKenna Theater.

“So theatre has to compress a lot and dance isn’t really losing anything here. Every piece is being given a chance to perform. It’s not losing any facilities, it’s getting a bigger, better facility. It’s brand new. It’s beautiful. It’s nearly a million dollar investment by this campus, so dance is not suffering as a result of this merger. In fact, they’re in a much better place than they were before the merger,” Roehrman said.

Regardless of who is gaining what resources, students feel frustrated. Senior May Wells, who not only choreographed a piece but is one of the lead dancers in McKines’ piece is extremely concerned about what this merger means for the future of the department and for her future as an aspiring dancer. For graduating seniors, the changes aren’t just frustrating. They pose a threat to their ability to get jobs in the dance world. Campus performances are a resumé builder for aspiring dancers and choreographers.

“Many of us are graduating and it’s important for us to have a piece that’s been in a paid concert. If you have a piece only in the (free) showcase, it doesn’t mean much to the professional world,” Wells said.

Students are flustered by the merger and the tension between each other, but also the self-doubt brought on by having their pieces compared to others. Dancers feel like they have to compromise themselves and their vision to create a piece that will get chosen, regardless of whether or not they love the piece.

“Now it’s like, what is going to get my piece chosen? Like, do I need to add certain elements to make my piece more unique or more different when in reality, we’re trying to create based off of what we feel and that’s what we were taught in the past choreography classes that this is your art, make it you. Now it’s like, is me enough” Wells asked.

Wells, like many other students, feels like there is a lack of communication and cohesion between the two programs. When discussing the loss of one of their studios and the subsequent resolution, dance majors and minors said they feel like the people in charge of the theatre program are trying to appease them rather than actually working with them.

“Since we’re merging, we need to work more like a team within the two departments. (The chair) is still referring to us as ‘you guys’ and ‘your department’ and ‘we’re giving’ instead of ‘we need to do this,’” Wells said.

There is an overall sense of discord between the two departments and that seems to be the real root of all of the chaos surrounding the New Moves Showcase.

“If the minds came together, if they put forth the extra effort to come together, then something more could’ve been done,” McKines said.


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.

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.”

Fighting for the Spotlight

Iris Contreras and Vivian Flores trade punches at Beautiful Brawlers V in Pacifica. Photos by James Chan


Story by Steven Calderon

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he crowd crammed into every corner of the second floor of the Moose Lodge in Pacifica to witness the storm of jabs, hooks and crosses that ensued on a makeshift boxing ring. The air was thick with sweat and the room smelled like the bottom of a gym bag. Fighting with bloody noses, gloved fists and bundled up hair, 30 women paired up and threw down in front of a roaring crowd and a pay-per-view audience for the fifth installment of an all-female, all-amateur boxing tournament called Beautiful Brawlers.

The only screams heard over the fans cheering in the face of combat were those coming from the fighter’s corners. Trainers shouted commands to their wards as the women absorbed punishment and punches that came too fast and too often to count. Sometimes the fighters followed instructions and at other times they succumbed to the cacophony of cheers and flying leather that came their way, making it near impossible to follow specific instructions.

Beautiful Brawlers is the brainchild of trainer, manager and former fighter Blanca Gutierrez. She created the tournament in 2011 to give women fighters a stage and an opportunity to compete at an elite level against fellow top amateurs, as well as putting them in the spotlight to get the recognition she knows they deserved. For the first time in the history of Beautiful Brawlers an added bonus came for three young competitors; a World Boxing Council trophy in the form of an authentic green and gold champion belt. It was also the first time that a WBC belt was awarded to an all-female tournament.

“We started it to try to match girls who couldn’t get fights,” Blanca Gutierrez said. “Then it got to the point where girls wanted to come to us to fight, but we tell them ‘If you want to fight, it has to be the best versus the best.”

Boxer Heaven Garcia poses for a portrait at Beautiful Brawlers V in Pacifica

According to Blanca Gutierrez, women boxers are not only generally overlooked, but some can have difficulty finding fights if they fight at or above 145 pounds. Blanca Gutierrez said that her friend and fighting companion Martha Salazar had difficulty finding fights when they competed as amateurs in the 1990’s. Blanca Gutierrez likes to tell the story of how the two would scour show to show in search of fights.

“Well Martha and I always used to go to fights and we always used to want to beat up the pretty girl,” Blanca Gutierrez said. “And the pretty girl could always fight. So that’s kind of where Beautiful Brawlers came from — pretty girls can fight too.”

Now as WBC women’s heavyweight champion, Salazar helps train her niece Ari Borerro, who is also a heavyweight fighter. Borerro has only two fights as an amateur because of the lack of available competition, but Beautiful Brawlers was able to provided her an opportunity. With her aunt in her corner, she squared off against Alexis Coultier, losing a close three round decision.

Aside from Borerro, one of the most anticipated bouts on the card featured 15-year-old junior Olympic gold medalist Lupe Gutierrez, who won the world championship tournament in Taiwan for the 132-pound division over the summer. Lupe Gutierrez, a winner of 40 amateur bouts, squared off against Erika Sanchez, another standout amateur, for the WBC trophy.

The fight was not easy against the ever-throwing Sanchez. They traded hooks at the center of ring in the first round. They threw quick, rapid-fire shots but then suddenly Lupe Gutierrez quick-stepped to Sanchez’s left, changing the angle and flow of the punches. She caught Sanchez off-guard with the position change and began to fight from a further distance. Lupe Gutierrez, the longer fighter, stuck her right-jab in Sanchez’s face and kept her left hand high to guard her own face and chin.

Her corner shouted, “Jab, jab! Jab and work!” and Lupe Gutierrez followed instructions.

Sanchez continued to bull Lupe Gutierrez toward the ropes but Lupe Gutierrez kept her composure and did not fold under the pressure of Sanchez’s assault. After the round both went to their corners and made up their minds how they would fight the rest of the contest. The second round was a duplicate of the first but Gutierrez began to time and counter punch Sanchez who continued to throw wide punches.

The fight seemed close at the start of into the third round and Lupe Gutierrez received warning from the referee to keep her head up during the exchanges. Lupe Gutierrez then became the aggressor and forced Sanchez back to the ropes.

Lupe Gutierrez’s corner, which never stopped shouting and must have sensed the fight was up for grabs, began to plead to their fighter, “Now Lupe go! Now Go!”

The bell rang, the fight ended and the crowd showered them with cheers. Lupe Gutierrez came back to the corner and after her trainer removed her mouthpiece she complained about a pain in her stomach as she held her hand at her side. Lupe Gutierrez must have known it was a close fight because as she and Sanchez came to the center of the ring to await the decision, she took a knee and bowed her head. After the decision was announced the referee raised Lupe Gutierrez’s hand in victory and another trophy was added to her growing collection.

Lupe Gutierrez poses with her new WBC belt after winning one of the championship bouts at Beautiful Brawlers V

“I’ve won a lot of titles but it doesn’t really compare to this,” Lupe Gutierrez said. “I mean this is a WBC belt and this is my first one ever. I think I have more to come as a pro but as an amateur it feels great to have this one.”

Jill Diamond, co-chairman of the women’s division for the WBC, said that the sanctioning body came on as a supporter for Beautiful Brawlers because of its “great interest in nurturing young athletes.” She also mentioned that the WBC has a lot of respect for Blanca Gutierrez who is “a creative and articulate spokesperson of the sport.”

According to Diamond, this was not the first time the WBC granted belts to the winners of amateur fights, but has recently decided to award the belts as a more prestigious trophy, according to Diamond.

Diamond explained that a possible reason these young ladies were so eager to win a WBC belt is because the history of the organization and what it represents.

“The WBC is known for having the greatest champions and a relationship with its champions,” Diamond said. “It’s the strongest of the organizations and the titles have been called the ‘Ali Belt’ and later the ‘Tyson Belt.’ It’s prestigious.”

Nonetheless, Blanca Gutierrez said that she would never “cheapen” the belts by awarding them to women who did not stand-out as elite, world-class amateurs.

“It’s the kind of thing where it’s going to create a bigger situation for female fighters,” Blanca Gutierrez said. “And the WBC is the best federation in the world. So to be connected with them is not only a blessing, it’s just the greatest thing that could have happened to the Beautiful Brawlers.”




The Right to Privacy

By Jordan Lalata

On a brisk morning in November, children wearing backpacks almost equal in size to their small bodies clutched their parents hands as they entered Mount Davidson’s Miraloma Elementary School to attend morning circle before school began.

En route to the playground, the families walked down a staircase with a rainbow flag hanging from above, showcasing Miraloma as a gay friendly, inclusive school. In recent months, the school took an extra step to bolster that sense of inclusivity.

Sam Bass, the principal at Miraloma, said the families of three kindergarten students who identify along the gender spectrum, a wide range of gender variations, approached him last year over issues with bathroom usage. One of the students in particular had a difficult time choosing what bathroom to use because of the male and female labels.

“I was heartbroken that my student was struggling and not feeling safe to go to the bathroom,” Bass said. “I have 394 students. If one of them is not safe and comfortable then I am not doing my job.”

To remedy the situation, the school’s administration removed the girl and boy signage from bathroom doors in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms, making Miraloma the first elementary school in the San Francisco Unified School District to adopt gender-neutral bathrooms.

Gender-neutral bathrooms have not been accepted by all, however, Privacy For All, a coalition of parents, students, nonprofits and faith groups with a main office in Sacramento, created an initiative in April 2015 to keep bathrooms in California with their conventional labels.

The initiative, called the Personal Privacy Protection Act, proposes that people use a bathroom based on their assigned sex given at birth in all government buildings.

People who identify with a gender they were not assigned at birth would have to use the bathroom that corresponds with their assigned sex if the initiative receives voter approval. Sponsors of the bill have until Dec. 21 to gather 365,880 signatures to qualify for the 2016 ballot.

Kevin Snider, attorney for Privacy For All and chief counsel of legal defense organization Pacific Justice Institute, said he drafted the initiative to bring back the right of privacy in the most intimate of settings such as restrooms, dressing rooms and showering facilities.

Snider and other proponents of the measure say that California laws protect citizens’ privacy, and gender unspecific bathrooms leave the door open for a violation of that privacy.

“Most women, regardless of their claimed ideology, sense a feeling of alarm if a man follows them into the restroom,” Snider said. “It is difficult to imagine a more vulnerable position to be in than sitting on a toilet, with underwear to one’s ankles, when an intruder bursts through the stall’s door.”

Opponents of the measure say it violates the state Constitution protecting civil rights.

Jill Marcellus, communications senior manager at civil rights organization Transgender Law Center, said the initiative does not consider transgender men and women to be their preferred sex. The center is keeping an eye on the initiative and is ready to take action if it qualifies for the ballot.

The initiative suggests a person to be a male or female based solely on biological sex. But if a person has undergone sex reassignment, their preferred gender will be considered the opposite of what they are assigned at birth.

“It would force transgender people to answer to strangers about medical questions they have no right to be asking, which is a huge violation of privacy,” Marcellus said. “It would also force the very thing they are trying to prevent by forcing, for example, a transgender man to use the women’s restroom.”

According to Gender Spectrum, a San Leandro nonprofit that provides education about gender and inclusivity, Western culture generally views gender as a binary concept of male or female, however, it is more complex than that.

Sex and gender are not interchangeable. Biology identifies males and females based on their body parts, chromosomes and hormones. Children are assigned a sex based on those features at birth, but that way of defining gender does not encompass those who express and identify opposite of their assigned sex.

People externally communicate their gender with their appearance – such as clothing and hairstyle – and identity is one’s innermost concept of gender, according to Gender Spectrum. People might identify themselves as a male, female, neither, or other, regardless of their biological attributes.

SFUSD has supported students in the gender spectrum to access facilities, specifically restrooms. In 2003 Board Regulation R5163a was passed, that grants students access to the restroom that corresponds to the gender they identify with at school.

“SFUSD has had policies and procedures in place for nearly 13 years addressing gender fluid, transgender, or gender expansive students,” said Kevin Gogin, director of Safety and Wellness at SFUSD. “We continue to create safer more inclusive schools by working with students on the gender spectrum, along with their parents/guardians, and providing professional development and educational resources to school faculty.”

Pink or Blue, Who the Hell Cares?

By Jenna Van De Ryt

Have you ever heard the saying, “a child’s brain is like a sponge?”

The saying goes, when children are young they are equivalent to a sponge constantly soaking up the world around them and learning a multitude of new information all for the very first time. For the sake of education, the early years of a child’s life can simply be defined as the optimum time for learning. But, with learning comes teaching, and what do toy store’s all pink and all blue aisles teach them?

It teaches children that there is a distinct difference between the segregated lines of color that divide toy store aisles. It prompts children to select one team to play on and to understand that they may never pinch hit for the other color. So, what would happen if a little girl wants to play with a dinosaur? Maybe she will grow up to be a paleontologist. Or, heaven forbid a young boy asks to have his very own doll. Maybe his professional path will lead him to becoming a pediatrician. Both, successful career paths in their own right, but for some reason at an early age it’s frowned upon for children to dabble in different subject areas that are not true to their gender.

Society says it’s unacceptable because, girls are pink and boys are blue. But not anymore. Big name retail stores Toys ‘R’ Us and Target have both announced that they are eliminating gendered toy marketing in all stores. “Boy” and “girl” labels on store aisles and toy packages will soon become a thing of the past. Gendered specific colored wall paper strung behind toy shelves will also be eliminated and transformed into a more monochromatic color. Toy products will be organized according to theme as opposed to gender.

These changes are in lieu of the UK-based campaign “Let Toys Be Toys,” which launched in November of 2012, and fights for the elimination of gender specific toy labeling. According to the campaign’s website, “isn’t it time that shops stopped limiting our children’s imagination by telling them what they ought to play with?” the site stated. “Let Toys Be Toys” is asking retailers and manufactures to start labeling and sorting toys according to function and theme opposed to gender. Allowing the child to decide which toy interests them the most will encourage imagination and creativity in lieu of their personal selection. The parent-led campaign has so far been successful in leading a total of 14 nation-wide retail stores, down the path of change and gender equality.

One of the first gender-neutral toys to be introduced to the neither pink nor blue shelves of toy stores is the Easy-Bake Oven. Hasbro, the maker of the new and improved oven, released a unisex version for bakers everywhere. Previously purple and pink, the 21st century oven is black, blue and silver, allowing all kids to simply bake!

Jon Whooley, an international relations professor at SF State, recently purchased a shopping cart and kitchen set for his two-year-old son, Miles simply because- his son wanted them.

“He likes shopping for groceries and then cooking food for himself and us,” Whooley said.

Whooley said his son cares more about the toy itself opposed to the color palette on the packaging.

“He seems to love playing with his tea set, as much as he likes driving his cars.” Whooley said.

“Let Toys Be Toys” continues to fight for gender fluidity in toy stores throughout the nation. Capitalizing on the theme that, “toys are toys for all girls and boys.”

What is Gender Fluid?

By Oscar Gutierrez

A mirror shows the reflection of Jay Garcia as they get ready for another day of work. Amongst a closet of dresses, suits and ties, Garcia decides on a bright red collared silk shirt and denim pants. To complete the look, they wear a binder to press their breasts down to make them less visual. This is a daily routine for Garcia. Some days they decide on more feminine clothing and other days they may decide to mix feminine and masculine apparel. Garcia is gender fluid, a title that refers to people who switch amongst many gender identities, not just male and female.

“It was difficult growing up and knowing that I did not fall in the ‘either, or’” Garcia said. “It was one of the most comforting things when I learned that I did not have to fall into either and there was a community to support me.”

Gender fluidity has recently received attention because of people like actress Ruby Rose, who came into the public eye with her visual androgyny that challenged the aesthetic aspects of gender. Rose identifies as gender fluid, but according to Garcia, there is still work to do in recognizing people that are gender fluid. Currently, articles discussing the topic have been met with a mix of comments specifically discussing that children and youth are not at a mature enough age to know what gender they fit into, while supporters of gender fluidity have claimed that as children and youth, parents should give the flexibility to switch amongst genders to express themselves fully.

“It is wonderful to have people representing gender fluidity, both in what they wear and how they may perform identity through types of jobs and daily interactions,” said Vida Bonilla, a volunteer at the Lavender Youth Recreation & Information Center. “We need to realize that many people deal with not wanting to fit within the one single gender and don’t visually represent it for a multitude of factors.”

LYRIC is an organization helping people, specifically San Francisco youth, with expressing their identity freely. According to Bonilla, culture and religion are two major factors in the failure to present oneself in their true identity.

Garcia mentioned that before they began presenting themselves in multiple genders and changing their gender pronouns to “they, them and their” it took about 11 years from when they found a name for the identity to when they actually started presenting themselves in androgynous clothing. Garcia attributes this delay to the strong Mexican and catholic beliefs that were strongly held in the family.

“Jay had no way of explaining it because there was hardly any resources for them to explain what was happening with them,” said Bertha Garcia, mother of Jay Garcia. “Yes, I still hold my beliefs strongly, but within my beliefs is also always being there for my child and supporting them in any way possible.”

Although conversations on gender fluidity are beginning to gain traction, the amount of research and data documenting those who identify solely as gender fluid is close to non-existent. Many times, gender fluid people are treated within the category of transgender or queer people, and although they may fall under the categories, the development of these resources such as support centers and reference materials for parents and children have mostly come from things like online forums and discussions amongst gender fluid people in spaces such as LYRIC and other LGBTQ centers in the city of San Francisco.

“I wish there were more things for us to look at and feel like we were being represented, but I know that’s a process and there is progress with more of the conversations we have,” Garcia said. “We need to recognize the amount of problems that youth who are questioning their gender have from depression to suicides, but I feel that is part of my purpose, to educate.”

Androgyny Is In

By Carlos Mendoza

Milan Fashion Week brought the clothing industry a new state of mind, and it was all thanks to Gucci’s spring summer 2016 collection. The suave pussy-bow tie chiffon and crepe shirts, followed by floral prints and vibrant lace button-up shirts graced the catwalk. Bell-bottom trousers appeared on the show with frail waif-like male models, which strutted confidently in clothes that are traditionally worn by women.

Just as Gucci made a statement last fall winter 2015 season, head designer Alessandro Michele is back with another 70’s themed collection that is testing the barriers of gender and clothing.

The reality is that fashion designers has always been on the brink of breaking down the wall of gender-specific clothing and incorporate gender neutral clothing in their collections and campaigns. Public School, a New York City based clothing brand, is well known for being gender neutral. Their spring summer 2015 collection displayed over-sized trousers tailored for men on women. The models featured in the show closely coordinated with the design by possessing androgynous looks to match the outfits.

Niki Snyder a freelance designer and recent graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise has had some of her pieces created and sold by the brand Betabrand. This modern minimalistic designer with a taste for textiles, believes that gender neutral clothing is a re-occurring fashion trend.

“Gender neutral clothes have always been around,” Snyder said. “We just never noticed it until now because of the times we are living in.”

The politics of gender, sexuality and orientation is on panel for discussion more frequently in comparison to other years according to Snyder.

Fashion and style, according to Snyder, should also reflect the times, and that clothes are all about comfortability.

“When I design something I don’t see it as a woman’s piece, or men’s, but rather unisex because depending on the person and their confidence they can pull off any type of clothing,” Snyder said.

Styling probably is one of the most important factors when it comes to the fashion world, according to Robert Finch a stylist/ fashion photographer.

“Style is everything,” Finch said. “You either have it or you don’t and every single item counts no matter if it comes from the woman’s department or men’s.”

Style according to Finch is iconography and can represent who you are as a person. When he style’s models or clients he doesn’t eliminate any options.

“I can style a woman and I will put on her a men’s white button up shirt because it is simple, chic and the way it fits a woman’s body is absolutely stunning,” Finch said. “For a man it can be as easy as an over-sized women’s coat throw it over the shoulders and he would look just as fabulous.”

Models also play a role in this transformation, according to Finch. There is a trend amongst models where their look is androgynous which provides a new sex appeal.

“Before there was models that looked strictly like men and women,” Finch said. “Now androgyny is in and people are getting in touch with their feminine and masculine sides.”

Finch admires this new look, because it provides a sense of eroticism and mystery to everyone.

A fad or a trend, but many people believe that this style might be around to stay for quite some time.

“I love everything about it and I know people are going to buy into this fashion trend,” Snyder said.

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.

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.

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.

Dick’s, emoji balls, and Ellen Degeneres

Some SF State students await with their designed Emoji balls to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods in Daly City on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress 2015)


Twitter erupted with love for Ellen Degeneres this weekend when her account sent out a post seeming to say she’d be visiting our foggy little campus on Monday.

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Even though the superstar was never confirmed to be coming to the campus, or even the area herself, the attention didn’t stop and the energy didn’t pop.

At 1 p.m., the account sent out a tweet finally announcing that the location of the shooting and instructions to bring balls with their favorite emojis drawn onto them. By 1:30 p.m., the parking lot at Dick’s Sporting Goods was starting to pile high.

“It makes sense why they’re here,” says Karrie Le, who found out about the taping from her friend and current SF State student, Marcos Zambrano. “This Dick’s is one of the biggest Dick’s there is.”

Abby Comphel 20, designs her ball with her Emoji to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress 2015
Abby Comphel 20, designs her ball with her Emoji to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress 2015

You could easily overhear that people didn’t expect for her to be there, but the excitement did not cease. The hashtag #SFSUonEllen had more than 100 posts in less than a few hours. But some still felt misled.


Overhearing things like, “Totally worth missing my finals review. Class of 2015!” and “Ellen, I just got hit by a car, can I be on the show? I’ll show you the bruises” you could tell how real the thirst for Ellen was.

As Ellen’s infamous associates, Jeannie and Ian from the Ellen Show started announcing to the crowd exactly what the emoji balls were for. Before the talk show assistants could even get through the introduction, the crowd’s cheers and shouts echoed high over any amount of sound he could make through his microphone.

(L to R) Gabrielle Guerrero 20 journalism major, Sara Frnacisco 18 Biology major and Joceyln Tham 19 BECA major design their tennis ball to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods in Daly City on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress
(L to R) Gabrielle Guerrero 20 journalism major, Sara Frnacisco 18 Biology major and Joceyln Tham 19 BECA major design their tennis ball to be seen on the Ellen DeGeneres show at Dicks Sporting Goods in Daly City on Monday, May 11. Photo by Angelica Williams/Xpress

Even Ian announcing that the group who had already been there for an hour would be waiting another two hours until the filming didn’t deter the crowd of Ellen fans. One screaming woman even had a shirt that read “this moment is worth all of my student debt.”

When asked if it mattered that the talk show host herself wasn’t going to be there City College of San Francisco student Tiffany Cheung, who dressed up as the Pixar lamp said “I’m willing to be here to be on it.”

And that was the general consensus – the chance to be on the show and live stream to Ellen was worth standing out in front of the sporting goods store. Once 4 p.m. came around, a handful of people who had the best emoji balls were then chosen to run around the store, via streamed orders given by Ellen, and complete given tasks.

For the four competitors that won Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards between $500 and $5,000, the contest was pretty cool. For those who got to hang out in the foggy weather, draw faces on balls, and be on television, the filming was also pretty cool.

Overall, it was a pretty cool day.

Thanks, Ellen. Even though we were all catfished, we still love you.