28 February 2008

Outside Lands Festival

The Outside Lands Festival that is rumored to take place in Golden Gate Park this August might just be one of the worst concert ideas I've ever heard of.


Jack Johnson.

Tom Petty.

Three HUGE headliners. Each with its own die-hard fan base, I'm sure. And yet, I don't see a whole lot of overlap amongst these fans... That is, not a lot of people who are Radiohead fanatics are equally excited about oh-so-dreamy surfer boy Jack Johnson.

Maybe I'm all wrong here, but if I want to see Radiohead, which I do, I know it's going to be crowded and expensive and tickets are going to be damn near impossible to score. So why would I also want to see Jack Johnson and Tom Petty, who come with their own fans, to compete for tickets and standing room and to wait in line for the port-a-potties with.

Then again, it might just be the most epic concert of a lifetime.

27 February 2008

One thing I don't get

In this week's Foghorn I wrote an opinion piece about USF's proposed on-campus smoking ban.

Then I came across this blog post in SFist about the smoking ban in bars and restaurants. The post sparked a pretty heated debate between smoking and non-smoking commenters.

The issue seems to be a question of rights: smokers should have the right to smoke, non-smokers should have the right to breathe clean, odorless air.

Personally I can't see the point of smoking. It's that simple -- I just don't get it. Having seen my dad, my mom, and my step dad struggle with quitting time and time again, it just seems absurd.

I guess what I'm saying is that the idea of smokers having "rights" seems beside the point. The real question to me is why are they smoking in the first place? The slow and steady poisoning leading to shortened lifespan and the hundreds of thousands of dollars tossed to evil tobacco companies just doesn't do it for me.

But I know there's more than one side of the story, and I'm sure I just can't see it. What are your thoughts?

The only thing better than travel...

The only thing better than traveling is doing so on someone else's dime.

I have not one but two all-expense paid trips coming up. To answer your question, yes I do pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. Trust me, it's true.

The first trip is from San Francisco to New York City over spring break.

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I am going on this trip with three other editors from the Foghorn for a college journalism conference. During the days we'll get to learn all of the latest innovations in student journalism, and at night we'll peruse one of the few cities I would consider as cool as San Francisco.

The second free trip is to Israel over summer vacation.

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This trip is through the Birthright Israel program, which provides free trips to Israel for any young adult of Jewish descent to expose them to Israeli culture (and, I suspect, to try to convince them to move there). I have no idea what to expect -- the only place I've been outside of North America is Holland, where my brother-in-law is from -- and have a feeling that Israel will be quite a culture shock. I am really excited to be exposed to such a different way of life.

25 February 2008

The joys of Amtrak

Riding Amtrak is something I have become quite familiar with since I moved from Sacramento to San Francisco in fall of 2006. It occurs to me that trains have become somewhat of an antiquated mode of transportation -- often when I tell people that I am taking the train home, they seem to be very intrigued -- so I decided to blog my Amtrak experience.

First, you must decide if you want to travel alone or with a companion.
The upside of traveling with a companion is, well, the companionship. The downside is when you are waiting for her to finish packing, which causes you to miss your bus to the Ferry Building, causing you to miss your bus to the train station in Emeryville, and of course, missing the train from Emeryville to Roseville.

It's okay; we caught the next one. Besides, the Ferry Building is not the worst place to wait for an hour.

We eventually made it to Emeryville. Seeing the train pull up after all that waiting is a sight for sore eyes.

But nothing is more beautiful than some of those views from the train window... The region between the Richmond and Martinez stations is particularly breathtaking.

The train stops in Sacramento. Alas, only one more leg of the journey: the bus from Sacramento to Roseville.

Roseville Train Station -- it may look insignificant, but fun fact! Did you know that in the first half of the twentieth century, Roseville was home of the largest freight marshaling yards west of the Mississippi River? Now you do!

Waiting for our friend to pick us up, we couldn't help but notice this fellow waiting with us.

The funny thing is, he didn't belong to anyone. He was just chilling there.

the Roseville skyline... one to rival San Francisco's? Maybe not.

So, to recap: Took the 31 bus to the Ferry Building, took an Amtrak bus to the Emeryville Train Station, took an Amtrak train to the Sacramento Train Station, took an Amtrak bus to the Roseville Train Station, got a ride home from a friend. Though it would be nice for the trip to be a bit more streamlined, I can't complain. It's always a bit of an adventure.

17 February 2008

f*** this s***

As an editor for a Catholic university-funded newspaper, there are certain things we must be careful about. We get a lot of freedom from the administration, don't get me wrong, but there are certain subject matters that we are forced to be extremely sensitive about... abortion, birth control, alcohol and illegal substance use, etc.

Okay, so no frivolous pieces on the virtues of abortion. Duh.. no responsible journalist would do that anyway.

But one thing that was news to me was that the university has declared war on "naughty words." Two weeks ago, in an interview with Curb Your Enthusiasm's Susie Essman, staff writer Jim Taugher asked Essman for her thoughts on a comment posted on a fan message board that said "I would like to f*** the s*** out of her."

Turns out, this question, which was part of a really interesting interview full of good questions and colorful insights, was viewed by the university as being vulgar and offensive. The Foghorn immediately received e-mails from a prominent university official asking for an explanation and an apology.

Left with few options, we ran an apology the following week, and met with said official to grovel and gain back some of her affection. Shameless, I know.

The point is... what is the point? Oh yeah.. Profanity. The words used in the article were profane, especially in that context -- but that was the point. Besides, they really were implemented tastefully, as Taugher was using the quote to get at an interesting point: how can a strong woman in Hollywood, who doesn't portray herself as a sex toy by any means, deal with that kind of objectification? All in all, a really decent, smart question.

Moreover, these words were used in a direct quote, and they were asterisked out, all which is in line with the AP Style Guide.


On February 14, Jane Fonda appeared on the Today Show to talk about her involvement with the play The Vagina Monologues, and, low and behold, she used the "C-word." And America freaked. And NBC apologized profusely for her "slip-up." And people worried about the poor children who were exposed to this dirty, vulgar, disgusting word over their Cheerios.

The thing is, like The Foghorn incident (am I really comparing The Foghorn with The Today Show? meh...), it really wasn't a slip-up. At least I don't think it was. The word was used in the context of a famous feminist play, so it was obviously not being disrespectful toward women. In fact, one of the whole points of Monologues is to "reclaim" the word cunt from being what the Parents Television Council called "one of the most patently offensive words in the English language."

Bad words... isn't this all very juvenile? The very idea of certain words being "bad" reminds me of junior high school. I thought the stigma associated with these words would disintegrate after eighth grade.

It's things like this that make me want to move to Canada.

15 February 2008


Sometimes people I know from home ask me what it's like living in San Francisco. I always end up smiling, thinking really hard, and coming up with a terribly inadequate answer. The truth is, it is the kind of thing that cannot be explained.

Last night was Valentines Day, and while I imagine the single citizens of most cities moped around their apartments in their p.j.s and ordered pizza, that kind of thing just wouldn't fly here.

City-wide Valentines Day Pillow fight. That is just one of the reasons I love San Francisco.

13 February 2008

"Rabbi -- you'd make a good pastor"

For my Intro to Judaism class, I went on a field trip to see Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield speak at the Jewish Community Center.

The rabbi claimed that we are living in "the most polarized time in 2000 years."

All the world's religions are seemingly at odds. Even within these religions, there are factions at odds with one another. And within our own personal lives, we find conflict with our friends and family members that can lead to lifelong estrangement.

Hirschfield's answer to this was, "You don't have to be wrong for me to be right." Such is the title of his book. And basically all it means is that two people can have different beliefs, and they can both be right, as long as it works for them. (Okay, frankly, I can't quite see how he filled 288 pages with these ideas. Of course, being that I am already of the same school of thought, it sounds like a big fat DUH to me... but I digress).

This evening, he used an extended metaphor people sitting at a table to show how it is possible for people of different beliefs to get along. "We don't all have to sit at the same end of the table, but at least make sure the table is big enough for everyone," he said. He then went on to say that if you aren't comfortable with the beliefs of someone at the opposite end of the table, you can at least be comfortable with the people next to you, and if they are comfortable with the people next to them, and so on and so on, eventually everyone can reach a mutual understanding.

Too bad the table was only metaphorical. Then again, if such a real table were to exist, I could see some kind of massive food fight breaking out.

The lecture did have some interesting points to it though. Rabbi Hirschfield has lived a colorful life, and he shared a lot of really interesting stories about his travels throughout the Middle East and his theological conversation with a born-again Christian cab driver (who, at the end of their drive, told him with utmost sincerity that he would make a good pastor. Rabbi Hirschfield was surprisingly touched.)

And at the end, the JCC provided some pretty tasty cookies. All in all, a good night.