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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

lay off the court!



A few years after I graduated from Lowell High School in San Francisco, student activists organized a campaign against the school mascot - the Lowell Indian. They argued that the mascot and its papier maché squaw costume (above) which was trotted out at rallies and games was a racist piece of shit, and a student-body vote was organized. My majority-minority alma mater (whites made up something like a fifth to a quarter of 2700 students) elected to keep its racist piece of shit. At this point the superintendent stepped in and said it's very nice that you had your vote, but your mascot and your squaw are history anyway. Thanks for voting. 

I had mixed feelings about this, as I do about yesterday's decision by the California Supreme Court upholding Prop. 8. The Lowell Indian was a nasty embarrassment and I was glad to see it go. On the other hand, what kind of democracy - or even student exercise in democracy - was this? Elections, as they say, have consequences, or ought to, and if they don't it winds up smacking of a inelegantly dressed up exercise in Soviet democracy. There's a separate question of whether California - where you need a two-thirds vote to raise a tax but can revoke state-constitutional rights by 50-plus-one - ought to be voting on people's rights at all, but once the court allowed the initiative to go on the ballot I really can't see how they could invalidate the results. 

So I'm not happy with all the abuse that's being hurled at the court right now; it's the same court whose praises we were singing last year. We handed them six pounds of homophobic shit in a five-pound bag and this is the result. 

The disaster came in November. When James and I received what he is now calling our "limited-edition marriage" in June 2008 (i.e. it's still valid though no more same-sex marriages can be performed), we did not accept gifts except checks made out to fight Prop. 8. Many people gave and gave generously, but the following response (by someone who gave) captured a feeling that was widespread on the left after a promising Field poll showed us way ahead and it's in large part responsible for our current situation: Prop 8 "won't pass, so don't worry.  I think people have grown up."

Fifty-two percent of the California electorate had not, by November, grown up. The President of the United States has not grown up! We have the hard work of education and persuasion ahead of us, and railing against the court isn't going to do a whole lot toward getting it done. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

KUNST-STOFF party tonight (San Francisco)



Tonight the San Francisco modern dance group KUNST-STOFF is throwing a party to celebrate its 11th San Francisco season at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where I'm making my YBCA debut June 12 - 14 playing the world premiere of a Schnittke-Stookey piece for solo violin. Tickets for those three shows, which feature two world premieres by KUNST-STOFF founding choreographer Yannis Adoniou, are on sale now.

Tonight's party is from 5:30 to 7:30 at Triptych Restaurant (1155 Folsom Street between 7th and 8th). Admission is $15, ten of which is tax-deductible. Triptych hors d'oeuvres, cash bar. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Momblog: Momslide!



Results are in
from the United Educators of San Francisco internal election and Linda Festa Plack (a.k.a. Mom) has been resoundingly returned to the office of Executive Vice President for what, the third time? Hey, Mom, ever heard of this thing called retirement? Country house, book clubs, Israeli grandchildren--no. The voters have spoken and 61 percent of them have said no book club, at least not for another three years, and 61 percent is even better than this guy managed:



Actually more impressive than the margin of victory is the electioneering propaganda. After I read this, I might have even voted for these guys.

Mom, Dennis--congratulations and keep up the good work.



Monday, May 11, 2009

photo essay: tedious people in drab surroundings
































best newcomer








one magic numba








getting my Gono-do













three ways of looking at a screen












































































Beltaine '06 we found a baby rattler nested in the streamers of the old pole. It was released live, and returned this year all grown up. Hush put it right back where it started.








Apart from Nuh-uh's googly eyes, Most Disturbing prize goes to Jeff Whitty, who came up to me on the knoll on Beltaine and put her hand in my mouth. Was it something I said? No, just the Lady Rizo operating a second set of hands.
























































At some point it occurred to them they could spend the entire day on the couch.




People brought them coffee and food.




The idea caught on and sofapallooza was born.
Next year it will be a fundraiser, will you sponsor me?







































About Me

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des Récollets.

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