Do you know about Goldstar?

9 12 2008

gse_main_logo1Here’s a little holiday gift for you. Goldstar is a free service that offers huge discounts on live entertainment, like theater, comedy, sports, music, performing arts and even things like wine tastings, sushi making classes and rodeos. 

When you sign up, you can tell Goldstar what kinds of things you like to do, and each week they will send you an email listing local upcoming events that you might be interested in. I’ve been a member for a few years and have spent a lot of good hours at events that I might not have attended if Goldstar hadn’t told me about them, or given me a huge discount. I’ve been to major performances like Cirque du Soleil and shows at the ACT, and have also laughed my head off at a BATS Improv performance, and salsa’d down at the “Bagels and Bongos: A Fusion of Jewish and Latino Sounds.”

If you live in the Bay Area (or another of the 8 metropolitan areas they serve) and ever leave your house, I don’t se any reason you shouldn’t join!


Bolivian Surprise – Peña Pachamama

8 12 2008


When I was in college back in Ohio, I went to a performance one night and my world got blown open. I’d never heard anything like Sukay before – they were a Bolivian band that had so much spirit and energy and played instruments I’d never even imagined. I loved it so much that on my college student budget I brought home three albums. (Yes, albums. Be quiet.)

Imagine my surprise when years later I ran into the same band here in San Francisco. Except that now they are not only a band – brother and sister team Eddy and Quentin Navia run Peña Pachamama, a unique, intimate supper club in North Beach that serves traditional Bolivian dishes alongside raw, organic cuisine and fantastic live music by gifted artists from around the world. A typical week looks like this:

slyWEDNESDAY: New World music – Latin, Flamenco, Mediterranean

THURSDAY: Traditional flamenco music and dance

FRIDAY: Hot Cuban music

SATURDAY: Sukay (Yes, THE Sukay!) – World music and dancing celebrating Carnaval throughout a different Latin country, Bolivia and the Andes, Cuba, Spain or Brazil

SUNDAY: Early show – open floor world music dance groups; Later show –  Middle East music and dance

Going to Peña Pachamama is a unique experience. It’s like getting on a boat – once you’re in the door, you’re just along for the ride. It’s a San Francisco – er, Bolivian – experience I recommend for everyone!  Like Robin Williams said, Peña Pachamama “is the kind of place even the Amish would dance.”

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

30 10 2008

It’s coming up… my favorite San Francisco holiday: Day of the Dead. This is one of those gems that you just can’t appreciate without being there. The first time I went seven or eight years ago, I actually thought, “I bet Mardi Gras used to feel something like this before it became a tourist event.” It’s that magical and real and beautiful.

Day of the Dead – Dia de los Muertos in Spanish – comes at a time in the year when cultures all over the world consider that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is thinnest. Native peoples in various parts of the Americas, including Mexico and Central America, believe/d that life is really a dream, and that when we die we awake to real life.  Hence, death was something to celebrate – a perspective that is still alive in some areas.  In some parts people go to the cemeteries and spend the day partying with their dearly beloveds.

Here in San Francisco, we dance with death in a different way. On November 2 there is a procession through the Mission district, starting at 7:00pm at 24th and Bryant, and ending at an altar exhibit at Garfield Park. You’re welcome to bring an offering for the community altar. 

Additionally, there are altar projects around the Mission District all week.  See for all the details.

The picture above is me (second from the right) and some of my peeps who do this every year that the weather’s not too crappy. Let’s get the rain over with quickly!

What’s your favorite San Francisco holiday and why?  Comment below!

 If you like this post, you might also want to look at these: Balmy Alley, Mission Mission, Despacho

Hunters Point Shipyard OPEN STUDIOS

24 10 2008

Each weekend in October, artists and craftspeople in a different area of San Francisco open their doors so that we all can visit them where they create, and see their work. A local nonprofit, ArtSpan, organizes this huge undertaking, the country’s first and largest open studios program. There are so, so many great things to see!

One of my favorite places to visit open studios is the Hunters Point Shipyard, the decommissioned naval institution whose barracks have been taken over by about 200 artists. They call themselves “America’s largest artist’s colony”!

This year (2008), there’s an open studios weekend (November 1 & 2) devoted just to this special place.

[And if you’re around this coming weekend, November 25 and 26, you can visit studios in Financial District, North Beach, Potrero Hill, Russian Hill, SOMA, Tenderloin, Bayview, Excelsior.]

There are free downloadable maps of studios on Artspan’s website. See you out there!

Brava! Theater

11 10 2008

Did you know there’s a theater here in San Francisco just for us Urban Cowgirls?

I’ve seen so many wonderful, eclectic, colorful shows at Brava! Theater Center on 24th Street (at York) in the Mission District. The first event I went to there happened even before the space was officially re-opened, and we sat on bleachers in a dripping old theater. My friend JJ says she used to go to movies there when she was a kid for $0.10 a show!

In the last decade or so, the theater has been lovingly and beautifully renovated by people who are committed to the artistic expression of women, people of color, and youth, and to community transformation through the performing arts. By my measure, they’re doing a great job!

Events in the upcoming season include free writing workshops with Josephina Lopez, the author of Real Women Have Curves, a run of Friends, (no, not the sitcom; the 1964 Absurdist Classic written by Japanese playwright and novelist Kobo Abe), comedies, mariachis, healers, movies (try Harold and Maude on Valentine’s Day), classes, an all-day MLK celebration, music from around the world, and more more more!

Bless the Beasts

2 10 2008

This Sunday (October 5, 2008) is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, the environment and our beloved town. In celebration, St. John’s Episcopal Church and several other churches will make a public blessing for animals.  People and critters will be gathering around 1:00 at Dolores Park (near the 19th Street entrance), after an 11:00 service at St. John’s.

Last year, they blessed dozens of dogs, a few cats, a rat, and a gecko!

If I were an animal, I think I’d like to be blessed. It couldn’t hurt, even for Miss Tilly (above), who’s currently celebrating the High Holy Days.


If you were an animal, what animal would you want to be, and who would you want to bless you?  Click on “comment” below.

A Very Colorful Day

8 09 2008

On Wednesday (but during the day, so you have time to go to the Story of Stuff event) you have the opportunity to attend a full day about designing with color. The House Beautiful Color Institute is open to public and professionals alike. In the morning you’ll hear panel discussions and a presentation by Stephen Drucker, Editor in Chief at House Beautiful. The afternoon will be full of informational seminars and showroom events hosted by top experts and designers. Sounds like a good day!

So if you love color and don’t have anything on your calendar Wednesday (9/10) (like, ahem, WORK) call 212-830-2997 or email to register for this FREE event at the SF Design Center Galleria, 101 Henry Adams Street.