To say that KUSF radio enthusiasts are on pins and needles would be an understatement. Less than a week has passed since Stephen A. Previtt and the administration of The University of San Francisco filed paperwork to complete the sale of frequency 90.3 FM to the University of Southern California, and already, the ad hoc organization Save KUSF is up in arms again. They've planned a second rally in front of San Francisco's City Hall tomorrow, starting at
2 p.m. 1 p.m. Activists will urge the FCC to dismiss the sale of a community radio station to an organization 400 miles away, given that all the proceeds went into university coffers. The FCC could make its decision as early as February 24.
Check out this new interview with TechCrunch, in which Daisey discusses his love affair with technology, and his process of investigating the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen, China.
This is great: a "Telephone" parody video all about mitosis by Cal freshman Josephine Coburn. There are, sadly, no sunglasses made of lit cigarettes to be found, but there is — spoiler alert! — a chromosome-shaped hat involved. Get excited.
Well, it was only a matter of time before The Pack frontman/Twitter enthusiast Lil B became the subject of academic study: According to Complex, a UC Berkeley lecturer — with a very professorial-sounding British accent, no less! — apparently used the self-proclaimed #basedgod in one of his classes a few days ago, as an example of — wait for it — existential ennui in the age of information. The lecture has been spreading like wildfire on — where else? — Twitter; listen for yourself here.
There are probably other cities besides Oakland in which a business holding a benefit for another business is considered an act of philanthropy. Around here, it’s par for the course. Next Thursday, February 3, The Stork Club will hold a benefit for the city's beloved Mama Buzz Cafe, which was long considered an anchor for the uptown arts scene. The cafe is not in danger of closing, but it is in danger of deteriorating, said owner Jade, who organized the benefit to help fund maintenance and facade improvements. With the help of Stork Club owner Tom Chittock and a few frequent customers. The event will include a silent auction and raffle, as well as performances by Hottub, RnBMIllionaires, Man/Miracle, B. Hamilton, Dakota Slim, DJ Handsome Neto, and emcee Najee. A spirited Facebook post urged patrons to help revive the cafe that "made you a proud and jaded (pun intended) Oaklander." It went on to argue that "if it wasn't for Mama Buzz, we'd be clawing our eyes out for culture." Apparently, the decade-old coffee shop and gallery isn't just a virulent cultural incubator. It's also a necessity. Mama Buzz benefit goes down Thursday, Feb. 3 at The Stork Club (2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). 8 p.m., $5
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is currently facing strong criticism in Berkeley, much of it fomented by monologist Mike Daisey, whose new play The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs opened Sunday to a sold-out crowd at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. In the play, Daisey chastens Jobs not only for ruling the Empire of Mac with an iron fist, and manipulating co-founder Steve Wozniak (who, it is safe to say, became a perfect accomplice in his own exploitation), but for shamelessly abusing workers in the Foxconn factories of southern China. Daisey even passed out paper hand-outs on Sunday, urging patrons to call Apple customer relations and complain about the company's unfair labor practices. Yet, in previous interviews, Jobs has defended the Foxconn factories, and soft-pedaled the issue of worker deaths, apparently resulting from unbearable conditions on the production line. At a June All Things Digital conference, he referred to Foxconn as "a difficult situation." Try telling that to lefty arts patrons in Berkeley.
As KUSF continues to fight for its life, supporters have planned a rally before tomorrow's San Francisco Board of Supervisor's Meeting. The rally's at 1 p.m. at City Hall, and supporters are encouraged to stay for the Board of Supes' meeting at 2 and public forum at 3:30. It's unclear, what, if anything, the Board can do, as the sale is now in the FCC's hands, but it looks like this is part of supporters' plan to start a grassroots campaign to save the station before the sale goes through.
Update: Apparently Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, whose district includes USF, plans to introduce a resolution in support of the station at tomorrow's meeting.
Host Nato Green runs his Iron Comic competition like a well-oiled machine. Last night's event at San Francisco Punchline featured one visitor and four local favorites, with Sean Keane defending the title. The idea is simple: five comics compete for three rounds, doing extemporaneous material on whatever topics they are given. They're judged by a panel of — ahem — experts on wit, creativity, carriage, cadence, delivery, posture, and humor. The final two go head-to-head in a death match, in which the audience votes by applause. Then they have to answer questions about what's important to them and how they would change the world. (Just kidding, Green handles that part.) Last night's judge panel included San Francisco supervisor David Chiu, comedian Ali Wong, and yours truly. It was a night for bloodsport.
One might think that after a relatively civil discussion on KQED's Forum, the storm would have abated somewhat. KUSF music director Irwin Swirnoff got to air his grievances about "homogenization" to Classical Public Radio Network managing director Brenda Barnes, who expressed sympathy, but maintained that classical radio has a diverse listenership, too. It seemed like KUSF staffers and volunteers would grudgingly accept, and eventually acquiesce to the new online format.
Count another casualty in Oakland's War on Fun: after being found in violation of the city's cabaret law — and after a purgatorial few months, during which there seemed to be some glimmer of hope that the experiemental arts space might survive — 21 Grand finally shut its doors this weekend. As we've reported, this fall, the city's permiting office declared that manager Darren Jenkins would need a cabaret license in order to keep holding gallery openings and shows — and that he could only get a cabaret license by making about $120,000 worth of building upgrades. Jenkins masterminded a series of fundraisers, but alas, it was apparently not enough. OaklandLocal's got some great photos from the closing.