February 11, 2013

Man in the Mirror

It's been a while since I've posted, but this is just too important. When George W. Bush paints, what does he see? 

July 25, 2012

Motion Graphics: In and Beyond the Street— for ArtSlant

In the 1970s, artist Eric Staller took to the peopleless streets of New York at night to choreograph his long-exposure photography. To create sweeping arcs and tunnels of light, he attached sparklers to a broomstick and ran around the streets with the camera shutter open, never appearing in the photo. What’s left are blazing, astonishingly straight and uniform grooves of light piercing the still and darkened streets. It has everything to do with movement, the passage of time, and the impression a city can make on a person.

On view until August 25th, Intersection’s group exhibit Motion Graphics: In and Beyond the Street transcends popular notions of what has come to be defined as street art. Art in non-art contexts, art that responds to the environment, distinct from vandalism or corporate advertising, art that is political, or spontaneous and fleeting as ever. . . .  Continue to ArtSlant

May 16, 2012

Best of 2012: How to Be a TV Dance Star — for SF Weekly

(an acrostic) Y... Why not? In addition to being fun and nothing like your job, Dance Party is a great excuse to create the things we all want more of — life, community, and a story to tell. Imagine telling your grandkids, "I was a TV dance star back in the aughts. Those were my halcyon days." Then imagine them saying back, "Weren't you 40?"

From the beginning at SF Weekly

April 03, 2012

Sister Spit Covers Sex, Sondheim, and Angry Monkeys from New Jersey — for SF Weekly

"I've been thinking a lot about Adrienne Rich," began the legendary queer author Dorothy Allison. The crowd was hushed, the silence nurturing reverence. "I've been thinking about the stories we all share." Allison's Southern cadence rolled off her tongue as she opined, "Leave something behind." And Allison definitely left something behind on Sunday -- tales involving sex, porcelain, childbirth, and (maybe) orgasm.

But before we get there, we should tell you Allison was the final reader at Sunday's Sister Spit event at the San Francisco Public Library. And if you don't know (yet), Sister Spit is a vanload of chanteuses and luminaries, queer legends and performance artists, who travel the country in a sort of literary roadshow every April. Sunday's edition inaugurated the 2012 tour with a special SF appearance by Ali Liebegott and Hilary Goldberg's short film adaptation of a chapter from Michelle Tea's Valencia. . . . Continue to SF Weekly

December 19, 2011

Dinosaur Jr — for SF Bay Guardian

The nostalgia factor of a night spent at the Fillmore, watching Dinosaur Jr. play the entirety of its classic Bug album while the scents of weed and that cloying old familiar CK One (I shit you not) steeped into my clothes, is hard to ignore. Though I was too young to appreciate Bug in 1988, watching the slacker-rock trio indulge in sprawling guitar solos and dense, chugging bass lines undoubtedly evoked a longing for grunge and those impetuous '90s.

Former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins, slack-jawed and in awe, couldn’t shake that wistful yearning either as he sat on stage, probing the band for questions . . . . Continue to The San Francisco Bay Guardian

August 12, 2011

Traveling Mobile Arts Platform — for SF Weekly

​When art comes into a public space, it's got to be accessible, right? To invigorate a community, the experience has to operate at multiple scales, from the intimate to the universal. Mobile Arts Platform (MAP) is a traveling communal art space that for the past year has rolled up to neighborhood street festivals to bring art to the people, pop-up style. Two interactive sculptures -- conceived and transported by artists Peter Foucault and Chris Treggiari -- are brought to festivals and the streets outside of galleries. . . .
Continue to SF Weekly

July 26, 2011

Miranda July: A Beginner's Guide to the Artist, Writer, Filmmaker, and The Future — for SF Weekly

​This Thursday at SFMoMA, Miranda July will introduce her second feature-length film, The Future, a highly anticipated "antiromance" about a couple contemplating cat adoption and all its looming responsibility. This seemingly simple decision comes to seem terrifying, inspiring them to fixate on (and seek out) the lives they've always wanted but not yet achieved. It even encourages transgressions.

Full of quirky devices, such as voiceover from the soon-to-be-adopted cat, conversations with the moon, and one character's ability to freeze time, The Future heightens reality as only Miranda July can -- with that humanity that distinguishes the whole of her output.

Although her people are eccentric, terrifying, and misguided by their odd logic, they are still deserving of empathy, symbolic of our softer selves maybe. . . .Continue to SF Weekly

July 07, 2011

Sarah Palin, Accidental Poet: A Triumph from San Francisco's Byliner — for SF Weekly

Not all writers are created equal. Along with an impressive compendium of long-form journalism and politically charged pieces branded as Byliner Originals, one project stands out against the Krakauer investigation, a deep-dive into the Civil War, and a post-tsunami report of life in Japan.

The writer is Sarah Palin: the accidental poet.

First, let's get a little Workshop 101 and agree to say that there are all kinds of poetry, right? As many as there are good poets. The duty of the critic is to examine and evaluate, and when there's nothing really left to be said, often the type of poetry we still regard as "good" has at least this single, distinct quality about it: tension. . . .

Continue to SF Weekly.

June 15, 2011

Naked Girls Reading — for SF Weekly

In a city abundant with literary events, one must wonder: how do you keep an audience listening with rapt attention? You'd suppose disrobing would detract, would draw eyes below the collarbone, which for brief moments, it did, but Sunday night's Naked Girls Reading series demonstrated that nudity, when recontextualized, can be normalized into a sex-positive approach to public reading with a witty approach to sexuality.

Naked Girls Reading is a group of beautiful ladies who love to read without a stitch of clothing, save for a pair of rainbow knee-highs or a belly dancer's belt shimmying and jangling up to the mic. It originated in Chicago two years ago as a spontaneous moment between founder Michelle L'amour and her partner Franky Vivid where the husband caught the wife naked in repose with book in hand. The two agreed that there was something powerful and beautiful about the breast beside the book. . . .Continue to SF Weekly

June 02, 2011

Steve Albini on Mario Batali, Ham, Slider-Lust, Olive Oil, and Why Cooking Isn't at All Like Engineering a Record (Except Maybe It Is) — for SF Weekly

Legendary audio engineer (don't call him a producer) and Shellac frontman Steve Albini eschews name-brand technology in the studio, despises digital. He's analog; this is common knowledge, championing the visceral over the virtual. As a stalwart traditionalist, he's as uncompromising in his opinions on music as he is about food. At the end of March, he started (or, as it's been revealed, wifey Heather started) a food blog to chronicle the dishes he serves her, as told in the canon of famed chef Mario Batali. The blog, mariobatalivoice, encapsulates the Albini tenets of good eating: to forgo the use of any extraneous ingredients or instruments and to respect the craft. Hell, he can spin gold out of copper coil; how hard can it be to eyeball olive oil and egg yolk to perfection? He spoke with us to discuss his stance on food, and though he finds no correlation between his cooking process and sound recording, there's something to be said about a man whose treble crunch is as fundamentally simple yet compelling as his culinary craft . . . . Continue to SF Weekly

May 12, 2011

The “Do Something Reel” Film Festival: The Vanishing of the Bees — for Poor Taste

Throughout the country, honeybee colonies have been disappearing. Not only is this cause for concern over losing another species, but it devastates our plant life. “One of the most important parts of nature [is] pollination,” narrates actress Ellen Page (Juno) sweetly and sensitively over the opening of the eco-doc, The Vanishing of the Bees, as the list of crops that rely on the honeybee is a long one.

Steady shots capture the flights of the colonies in startling detail so that the big, inelegant viewer watches in amazement how a bee flickers its wings, pulls the pollen from the petal with static electricity, and holds it to its fluff. . . . Continue to Poor Taste

May 10, 2011

The Thrill of the Chase: Heather Shouse’s Hunt for America’s Best Food Trucks — for Poor Taste

Some foods are so delicious, a journey to the end of the earth would be a dietary mandate, or, on a smaller scope, would necessitate a cross-country road trip. Food is the impetus that makes us mobile; the hunter-gatherer in us tells us so. Traveling across the United States to find the best kitchens on wheels, author Heather Shouse captures a moment in time, during this new wave of food truck fever, to tell the stories of the people trucking along with their talents and traditions in tow.

Anyone who thrills to the chase of tracking down a kimchi quesadilla or a crème brûlée crepe should pack Shouse’s Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels, when embarking on the trek... In North Hollywood, she met Hortenzia Hernandez, the Oaxacan woman in her early sixties working the pestle and mortar at Antojitos Mi Abuelita. When asked for her mole recipe for the book, Hernandez declined. “That one is sacred,” Shouse explains. “People come every week just for her Oaxacan recipe." . . . . Continue to Poor Taste

March 09, 2011

Head of the Table: An Interview with Foodies Writer and Director — for Poor Taste

Today, the first installment of the new web series Foodies premieres. The pilot opens with a man sitting in his car, inhaling fast food like a dirty secret before arriving to a dinner club where the guests are eager to whip out their phones and snap pictures of a Wonder Bread consommé. We feel for him. The series is about a group of L.A. gourmands who come together to show off their culinary chops with absurd flare, each perhaps jockeying for place at the head of the table. They explore the pretensions of food culture, as with lead Danny Domenica’s (as played by Daniel Franzese of Mean Girls) pompous attempt to make the mundane into the molecular with his deconstructed peanut butter and jelly. One recipe by Tom (Jefferey Self) ventures into the repulsive with a durian fruit tart, which if you know anything from watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, it’s one of the few flavors the daring glutton cannot stomach. . . . Continue to Poor Taste

February 25, 2011

Foreign Cinema’s Top 10 Film Feasts — for Poor Taste

A meal may be built similarly to that of a traditional film narrative: warm mixed Mediterranean olives set the scene, momentum builds with spiced, fried quail and tomato chutney, and the rising action culminates in a kobe bavette steak with Zinfandel butter. Dessert of course is the denouement. At Foreign Cinema in San Francisco’s Mission District, gourmands and cinephiles alike finesse oysters from the shells while an independent film flutters on the brick wall of the covered courtyard. . . . Continue to Poor Taste

February 11, 2011

Chocolate and the Big Question: What Am I? — for Poor Taste

In 2004, MoMA art space PS1 presented a retrospective of 375 pieces by artist Dieter Roth, including some of his “decay objects,” sculptures made of edible materials. While then a coordinator at PS1, future artisanal chocolatier Josh Altman was especially influenced by Roth’s use of chocolate.

“I’m interested in the politics of chocolate,” Altman says. “The material, the structure. You can look at it as a major production and how the cocoa bean is regulated. Just look at the Ivory Coast.” In 2005, it was reported that 200,000 children were working on cocoa labor farms in the Ivory Coast, and at this time, less than 1% of the world’s chocolate market was Fair Trade. Altman only uses Fair Trade and organic ingredients, finding his materials from a small network of chocolate lovers to create his modest, simple flavors. His “A Fire in My Belly” takes its name from the art piece by the late artist David Wojnarowicz. . . . Continue to Poor Taste

February 07, 2011

Diner's Almanac: SPAM — for Poor Taste

Because it doesn’t require refrigeration and can last for years, SPAM is “like meat with a pause button" . . . . And read the fascinating history behind the Depression-Era potted meat at Poor Taste

January 19, 2011

Distill My Heart: When Fog Rolls In — for Poor Taste

Just over two weeks into the year, I’ve dropped my unrealistic resolutions. I have been consuming ungodly amounts of hot cocoa with whiskey (topped with towers of Reddi-wip; I’m gross) while daydreaming of more temperate climates. True, the darkest days are behind us now, and the spurious sacredness of the season for eggnog and gingersnaps gone with it. But even though the light returns, the temperature’s still downshifting, and these are quiet days that call for something more romantic, beyond the common winter cocktails.

Flavors I normally find cloying, robust or way too aromatic for the summer find their ways into my cup (imagine that) on colder nights. Smoky, intense and heavy are the themes of the season, as opposed to the milder, more tender flavors of its summer counterpart. . . .

December 25, 2010


"The universe is winding down why shouldn't we?"

December 21, 2010

Food Banks In Need This Holiday Season — for Poor Taste

For a food-loving culture, it’s understandable to feel some degrees removed from the threat of hunger. The conditions can seem abstract; unreal, even. But it’s not lack of supply that threatens the unluckier of our Bay Area residents. The problem is that hungry people suffer because of extreme poverty. They lack the finances to really nourish themselves, to eat healthily, and keep themselves well to work, to live.

With food banks struggling to reach their fundraising goals and meet the demands, up more than 30 percent from last year, this season, often the most productive time for food banks and charities, sincerely has to be one of giving. . . . Continue to Poor Taste

November 30, 2010

Distill My Heart: From Sickle to Swizzle Stick — for Poor Taste

Like so much of our San Francisco rabble, I’m picky and take pride in our sustainable “locals only” approach to noshing. The body, the temple — the co-op veggie box, the parish? Though I do admit, some days my body feels like a temple built over an ancient burial ground (hello, hangover!), I want to do right by my body. I love freshness, feel awakened and clean, if only psychosomatically, by verdant, leafy things at the farmers markets. I geek out over the deep and dusky blush of an enormous heirloom tomato and am charmed by the beads of bramble fruits. Oh, the romance!

This past summer, cradling lil’ bitty baskets of fruits lovingly, I plopped golden raspberries, strawberries, and yellow peach slices into a white wine sangria for my birthday and scattered rosemary over the bowl. Admiring my work, and thinking, “Well, isn’t this just adorable?” I couldn’t stop adding to the mix: red raspberries, nectarines, oranges. The sangria bowl turned into an alcoholic fruit salad.... As the cold months creep and the heirloom tomato crops dwindle from the booths, I’ve been scampering to discover bars that follow a farm-to-bar philosophy. . . .Continue to Poor Taste

July 26, 2010

A Conversation with Artist Erik Parra — for Art Slant

In April, I attended a weekend-long Creative Capital workshop with 23 other artists chosen by three San Francisco arts organizations. I attended thanks to Intersection for the Arts, where I’d interned two years prior, and artist Erik Parra repped Southern Exposure; both Mission District art spaces.

About Place

“It was totally bizarre, in El Paso in the desert, the traditional architecture is flat roofs because the Native Americans who lived in the region lived in mountains and built these settlements out of adobe and mud, and when you’re coming down the mountain, the bricks you build are rectilinear bricks. So there’s no need for a pitched roof, because a pitched roof has a function,” so begins artist Erik Parra in talking about his experience growing up in suburban Texas.

“After the 50s and the suburban model was fully entrenched, then that was what a house looked like. So I think it’s funny that children, even in the Bay Area, draw houses that are a square with a triangle on the top. That is the code for house. You don’t need to have that shape out here . . . . Continue to ArtSlant

June 30, 2010

Live Review of CocoRosie — for SF Weekly

Better than or equal to: Lisa Frank on steroids

You could spot the freak-folk believers from afar: in their pink tights, Navajo vests, and single-eared feather earrings, with each teal plume like a smoke signal calling, "Don't you kind of feel what I'm kind of feeling?"

And onstage, a makeshift tent of neon draping was plopped; gold garland cluttered the floor and wreathed the mic stand. It was like something Lovefest and B2B aborted, and a giant magpie came in with its frantic cabling of the twig, the hair, and the sparkly shit to make its nest / my childhood dream-fort...

CocoRosie's newest album, Grey Oceans, is boring. But it's a vast improvement from The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn, which was a blundering mess. Disclosure: I was one of those aforementioned believers minus the groupie garb. I held the Casady sisters in my heart from La Maison De Mon Rêve to Noah's Ark. But when Ghosthorse came out, I cringed at the trite lyrics I had once excused; in the past I ignored them because I'd been so interested in the sisters' sheer energy, but after the gimmick exhausted itself, it was hard to see CocoRosie as anything more than art school whimsy.

But last night's performance renewed my belief. . . . Continue to Last Night: CocoRosie at the Regency Ballroom

June 09, 2010

Live Review of Holy Fuck Review — SF Weekly

Last Night: Holy Fuck at the Independent

Photos by Emily Savage

Holy Fuck
Nice Nice
@ The Independent
June 8, 2010

Better than: The halcyon moment when your ears stop ringing.

Stalking them on UStream for live sound checks and lurking on Chatroulette for chance encounters and album leaks may be what Holy Fuck wants you to do. But despite the Toronto quartet's savvy social media skills, Tuesday is still a hard night to put on a show. However, the crowd last night at the Independent would have you believe that Tuesday might just be the new Thursday.

First, there was that uncanny feeling of a stop at the local bar on a sleepy, lonesome night, with a few solo stragglers swaggering aimlessly about. When opener Nice Nice took the stage, the crowd began to huddle around the stage, drawn like ants to a crumb. Made up of one drummer and one guitarist, Nice Nice walked up to their instruments wordlessly. The boys then began clacking away on a pair of sleigh bells, blowing into a melodica and buzzing about on a kazoo before launching into an aggressive and insistent beat.

Starting off strong with their heavy beats and a persistent guitar riff reminiscent of The Police's "Bring on the Night," Nice Nice ventured into a bit of a psychedelic space jam by their second song. But they commanded the crowd's attention by the end of it with their penchant for ascension. Going into dub beats and strange Minnie Mouse vocals by song three, however, the band lost me with their jungle sticks, rain sounds and primal halts and chirps, sounding slightly New Age-y. Though each song melded into the other fluidly, I felt exhausted by the end of their four-song set, as if taken on a journey through the longest song of my life.

When Holy Fuck took the stage, they started off far away and spacey but didn't tip over into the psychedelic. They stayed focused on their noise, careful not to go off onto tangential drum and bass jams. And speaking of drum and bass, I appreciated their choice of live percussion and bass over machine loops. This added to the impetuous nature of their sound; their voracity felt valid.

As the guitar squealed against the breakneck drumbeats, the two frontmen mirrored each other as they hovered, swayed and bobbed over their soundboards, twisting and tweaking each dial and knob.

Only changing tempo towards the end, the band got speedier before switching to a more melodic, eerie song. Although the tempos felt pretty similar through the entire set, Holy Fuck pulled the whole thing off, switching between funk and noise without being overly abrasive. By the end, they sped it up again and the crowd got really excited, screaming and jumping along with the bands' frantic head-banging.

Critic's Notebook

Body Language, Pro: I appreciated the bassist's aggressive head-banging and the way he aimed the neck of his guitar, even if not purposely, towards thy sky like a rifle.

Body Language, Con: The popple-headed blonde dude smack dab in the middle of the floor and at the lip of the stage were a bouncy distraction in the undulating sea of bobbing heads.

Body Language, If You're Down: The crowd was heavy on the boy side, super drenched in dudeness. This could be a plus for hetero single ladies looking for some bro eye-raping, but I was not so down with the lack of lady representation.

June 05, 2010

Guest Editing — for SF Weekly/All Shook Down

From May 24-June 4, I hit the “publish” button on SF Weekly’s music blog, All Shook Down, while they transitioned to their new music editor.

I blogged about Wild Palms, Slipknot, a cover of ICP’s “Miracles”, a Lady Gaga fanzine, Peaches and the Creators Project, Birds and Batteries et al.

May 29, 2010


"I will walk heavy, and I will walk strange."

May 01, 2010

Guest Editing — for SF Weekly/All Shook Down

From April 26-30, I hit the “publish” button on SF Weekly’s music blog, All Shook Down, while the music editor went to Coachella.

I blogged about Growing, Tempo No Tempo, Stars vs. Fucked Up and the Arizona boycott, The Morning Benders, Japanther, Lady Gagita, Southern Exposure… et al.

April 11, 2010

Album Reviews for Monster Movie and Slow Club — for Venus Zine

For the Spring Issue of VZ. Get your grubby lil hands on a print copy.

Monster Movie
Everyone Is a Ghost (Graveface)

...Similar to the shoegaziness of Slowdive, Monster Movie's sound is feathery and fuzzy-- ethereal yet never without dark undertones, mild distortion and insistent beats. Standout track "In the Morning" offers shimmering instrumentation...filled with light and space and deep sentiments that never get too melodramatic...

Slow Club
Yeah So

...The admirable but predictable dual harmonies and tempos, jangly guitars and shivery brushes and snares make it clean and well-executed poppy folk rock, so it's a given this album will become somebody's summertime soundtrack. The sweet twee ballads are insistent on youth and campfire tambourines... a pleasant album (aside from the cornball lyrics)... just begging to appear in a Target ad...

March 31, 2010

Album Review of Woodhands — for Venus Zine

Remorsecapade (Paper Bag)

...The first half of the album hovers in shallow water, with videogame sonics, synth loops, aggressive beats, and vocals that echo an angry Simon Le Bon / Robert Smith lovechild. By track three, however, the duo unearths their identity with a pleasing rawness...

Go to VenusZine to read the full review.

March 08, 2010

Interview with Artist Margaret Harrison — for ArtSlant

This interview was for the RackRoom section of ArtSlant.com.

Interview with Margaret Harrison

Margaret Harrison’s work is stylistically reminiscent of early 20th century comic and pin-up cartoon art— in color theory, line and convention. Recognized as a pioneer of feminist art, her work explores not only the notions of female equality but gender ambiguity and the arbitrary nature of an absolute identity.

I spoke with Margaret Harrison about her current show at Intersection for the Arts and her roots in the feminist movement.

Jolene Torr: Do you feel there’s still a resistance against feminist art? Is there still a place for this kind of dialogue?

Margaret Harrison: There is a place for these dialogues to happen. I think younger artists have been afraid to call themselves feminists because of possible damage to their careers and the sale of their work. What they don’t understand is that you can wait around forever to be recognized, but [also] you can put your toe in the water without drowning yourself. Also the hype around the art market disguises the fact that very few artists are making a good living.

There was definitely a backlash against the kind of work I was doing, but curiously...
Continue to the full interview.

December 14, 2009

Write-up on Kukula — for SOMA Magazine

This piece was written for the White Noise portion of SOMA Magazine's Holiday Issue, December '09. The ethereal Charlotte Gainsbourg is on zee cover. Sidenote: I love her song "IRM," of which Beck gets all up in.

Ready for Wonderland

“I’m pretty much a gothic Lolita myself,” giggles Kukula. “But more grown up. I just got a Chanel suit, so I think that’s the more grown up way to do it.” Gothic Lolita can certainly be harder to pull off when you get older, but artist Kukula goes for the sophisticated interpretation. Asked about her inspiration, the 29 year-old thrills at the topic of fashion. Ready for Wonderland and dolled up in petticoats and platforms, the nymphs in her oil paintings allow Kukula to explore fashion in a way the real world tames...

Read the rest at SOMA Magazine.