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SUPER EGO: Great new books on nightlife and music, plus Green Velvet, Cajmere, Fog Rugby, Friends With Benefits, MOM on Mars, more parties

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RIP Gary Arlington, underground comix hero (UPDATED)

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UPDATE: This just in from Ron Turner: "Hello Friends.  There will be a memorial for Gary this coming Tuesday at 11 AM at 225 Berry St. off 4th, very near the Giants ballpark and the Cal Train station.  Hope to see you there.  It is a modern Senior Center where Gary made his home. Bring stories and memories to share."

Just got word from Last Gasp Press founder Ron Turner that comics legend Gary Edson Arlington has passed away at age 75. In 1968, he opened what is considered the first comic book store in the United States, San Francisco Comic Book Company, which galvanized the hotbed Bay Area underground comix scene (and helped house his enormous collection, too).

As Art Spiegelman told the Chronicle in 2012, on the occasion of the publication of "I Am Not of this Planet," a book of Arlington's colorful artwork published by Last Gasp:

"San Francisco was the capitol of comix culture in the '60s and early '70s; and Gary Arlington's hole-in-the-wall shop was, for me, the capitol of San Francisco."

He was truly a fascinating character who supported local comics and art until the end, and influenced pop culture exponentially. 

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Welcome to San Francisco, "Welcome to Night Vale"

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Hello, listeners. Brilliant breakout podcast "Welcome to Night Vale" has gained a rabid (yet adorably introspective) fanbase since it launched in June 2012. The twice-monthly, 20-minute-long show, created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, takes the form of a surreal newscast, coming to us from "somewhere in the Southwestern United States" by way of Twin Peaks.

Describing a community of indelible characters, it's a twisted take on Lake Wobegone that vacillates cunningly from whimsical to chilling, often veering into outright poetry. "Night Vale" also recalls the golden age of radio plays: even though it lacks sound effects and depends mostly on the deep, hypnotic voice of narrator Cecil, it summons the entrancing atmosphere of such classics as "The Shadow."

And now it's coming to the Victoria Theater for a big live show-reading on Tue/21. Expect seismic things, tiered heavens, off-limits dog parks, magic lightbulbs, hovering livestock, public service koans, and the heirarchy of angels.

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Fieldwork

New book 'Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies' looks at the sorry state of migrant farmworker health care -- and its larger implications in the global economy

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marke@sfbg.com

After two more hours of hiking, we stop in a dry creek. One of the younger men enlists help pulling large cactus spines from one of his legs. We sit in a circle sharing food. The tastes link us to loved ones and Oaxaca...Read more »

Re-framed

BOOKS ISSUE: A new book showcases creative cult-movie poster art

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LIT Forget the glossy one-sheets you've seen reproduced a thousand times. Read more »

Bikes to books

Pedal through San Francisco's literary past on this fun bike tour 

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San Francisco has been home to some of the true giants of American literature and poetry, from Jack London and Mark Twain to Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. To honor that past, 12 streets were renamed for these and other writers on Oct. 2, 1988, and there will be a 25th anniversary celebration of that dedication coming up on Oct. 6. Read more »

Father's day

Alysia Abbott pays tribute to the gay, single-parent dad who raised her in bohemian SF

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arts@sfbg.com

LIT In late-1980s San Francisco, Steve Abbott hosted a gay writer's workshop at his small apartment at the fabled corner of Haight and Ashbury. One fleeting but reliable occurrence was an appearance by Alysia, the daughter he'd raised since his wife died in a car accident years earlier.Read more »

Triumph of queer comics: Justin Hall wins Lambda, 'Adèle' takes Cannes

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Two cool, queer graphic surprises, just in time for Pride month. First, local comics hero, Califormia College of the Arts professor, and frequent SFBG contributor (not to mention out-of-the-closet Batman lover) Justin Hall took the 2013 Lambda Award for Best Anthology yesterday with his groundbreaking historical queer comics survey No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics (Fantagraphics Books).

This a huge deal, as this is the first time a comics anthology has won. (A graphic novel by Oakland's Jon Macy, Teleny and Camille, won for Best Erotic Novel in 2011, also a first.)

Hall told me right after his win:

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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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Clergy summons sexy undead (local Episcopalian priest pens racy vamp novel)

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It is perhaps indicative of my professional scope that I was nervous to talk to Amber Belldene, Bay Area author of a "racy romance" vampire novel (her words.) But be advised, my anxiety was due less to her literary pursuits and more with the fact that she is an ordained Episcopalian priest. Religion, it would seem, is a harder passion to penetrate for me than undead sex scenes. 

On her end, Belldene sees no conflict between the two. "Romance novels are really about love, and so is being Christian," the neatly-attired writer, who "fell down a slippery vampire slope" when she was a young thing told me during her visit to my office. The tagline on her website reads "Mystically Sexy Paranormal Romance…because Desire is Divine." [sic] Read more »