Lit

Read don't tweet: 83rd California Book Awards nominees announced

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The Commonwealth Club announced the nominees in six categories for its definitive Califonia Book Awards today -- and as usual it's full of stuff I'm dying to read. Why are literary awards, in particular, among the sharpest admonishments for wasting one's life on social media?

Well, screw you, Reza Aslan, and your Fox News-incinerating Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth -- I've Pinterested all the parody Kimye Vogue covers and publicly dissected that "Black Jeopardy" skit from last week's SNL on Facebook. 

Anyway, here are your nominees. Winners will be announced June 9 at a 6pm ceremony at the Commonewealth Club, open to the public. I'll probably be too busy scanning #tbt pics, sigh.

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In the cut

Poet Randall Mann's breakthrough 'Straight Razor' slices into gay life now

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LIT "Everywhere the gay narrative in this country is about freedom, but the reality doesn't match up. I'm interested in exploring the corners that aren't free — from bullied queer children killing themselves to the elaborate social prisons we concoct for ourselves online," Randall Mann told me. Read more »

Pure poetry

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"I didn't know I was a Chicano until I met Jose." -- actor and activist Edward James Olmos at the Jose Montoya Memorial Celebration at Sacramento's Crest Theater, Jan. 23, 2014. Photo by Fernando Andrés Torres.

Read Fernando Andrés Torres' story on NorCal's poesia en espanol revival in this week's paper.

A Modern tragedy

Important progressive bookstore and gathering place facing closure

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news@sfbg.com

After more than 40 years in San Francisco, the progressive independent bookstore Modern Times may have to close its doors in the near future, but not before issuing one final appeal for help from the community.

In the 1990s, Modern Times managed to survive chain retailers' predatory business strategies and cheap prices. More recently, it was able to withstand changes in the industry due to the increasing popularity of e-books and online retailers. More than half of the independent bookstores in the country shut down between 1990 and 2011.Read more »

Fame and blame

'Room 1219' delves into film legend Fatty Arbuckle's SF scandal

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cheryl@sfbg.com

LIT Every student of salacious San Francisco history knows the tale of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Over Labor Day weekend in 1921, the silent-film comedian hosted a rager at Union Square's Hotel St. Francis (now known as the Westin St. Francis), the largest hotel on the West Coast at the time. Starlet Virginia Rappe fell ill at the party, and when she died days later as a result of internal injuries, Arbuckle went on trial (three times) for the crime.Read more »

Nothing could be more super duper than 'So Super Duper'

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On Saturday evening in the Castro at 7pm, quite possibly one of the gayest things ever will occur, as queer comics artist Brian Andersen debuts his colorful new teen-friendly, straight-friendly, unabashedly queer So Super Duper volume, which stars "a little gay empathic hero (he can read emotions) named Psyche who doesn't quite know he's gay yet – even though it's painfully obvious to everyone around him."

It is so cute. And gloriously upping the pink quotient at the book launch, nationally televised diva Jason Brock will be hitting some high notes (he basically ruled the Bike Music Festival a few weeks back). Comics, superheroes, man-divas: It's a gaysplosion.

I asked the infectiously smiley Brian to talk a little about the So Super Duper's inspiration, and he had some very interesting things to say about being a proud femme-y gay guy in a world of macho stereotypes. 

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Hey, baby

New book adds alternative families to the facts of life

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culture@sfbg.com

LIT A new children's book with a social justice, all-inclusive approach to reproduction? To anyone who might question the need for such a thing, look no further than Toronto-based sexual health educator and writer Cory Silverberg's enormously successful crowdfunding campaign to get it published: $65,000 in one month. Not too bad to kickstart a picture book, eh?Read more »

Joyful noise

'Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society' takes readers to the brink

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arts@sfbg.com

LIT If the intrinsic value of an ephemeral experience is its very impermanence, then attempting to capture it for posterity is an exercise fraught with peril. No sanitized textbook description of such chaos-driven movements as Dada, Situationism, and Fluxus could ever hope to capture the raw vibrancy of being a part of the action, and the true value of such movements has really never been in spectating, but from the transformation experienced by the participants while pushing their personal boundaries.Read more »

'Maximus' through Flarf

Updated Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry updates updates updates

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marke@sfbg.com

LIT Mm-hmm

Yeah, mm-hmm, it's true

Big birds make

Big doo! I got fire inside

My "huppa"-chimpTM

Gonna be agreesive, greasy aw yeah god ...Read more »

Boom life: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore talks about 'The End of San Francisco'

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A picture of Brian Goggin's iconic site-specific sculpture "Defenestration" (that 16-year-old "furniture leaping out of an abandoned building" piece in SoMa that may be demolished soon) is pictured on the cover of Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's latest book, The End of San Francisco -- which I reviewed in this week's Guardian.

It's an almost too-perfect image to represent the book's contents -- "Defenestration" cheekily channeled the out-the-window frustration of the dawning of the first Internet boom, with its hordes of tech gold-rushers pushing out old San Francisco culture. (And now, in the middle of another tech boom, the artwork itself will be pushed aside to make way for affordable housing -- the term for anything under $2500 per month rent pretty much at this point.) The End of San Francisco takes us on an atmospheric, highly personal through the turbulent period of the '90s and early 2000s, while asking some hard questions about the queer activism, participatory gentrification, and "alternative culture" of the period. Along the way, Mattilda intimately delves into issues like her recovered memories of sexual abuse as a child at the hands of her father; the rampant drug use, mental illness, and hostile attitudes of Mission queer culture; the gynophobia and transphobia of many "underground" scenes, and much, much more. 

I asked Mattilda a few questions over email in advance of her appearances here at City Lights (April 30) and the GLBT Historical Society (May 9) to help set her book in the context of what was happening then, and what's still happening now. As always, she pulled no punches. 

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