Ben Terrall

Shaking the city

Chris Carlsson's new book takes on the legacy of 1960s SF

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arts@sfbg.com

LIT Activist, writer, and fast-talking leftist public intellectual Chris Carlsson, cofounder of the monthly bike happening Critical Mass, spearheads the online local history repository Shaping San Francisco. I recently spoke with Carlsson about Shaping SF and his associated projects, including three collections of cultural and political essays published by City Lights Books, the most recent of which, Ten Years that Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978, will be released June 15.Read more »

Call of the grisly

Paco Ignacio Taibo II constructs a guide to corruption in Mexico City Noir

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arts@sfbg.com

LIT With volumes devoted to numerous U.S. cities and quite a few foreign capitals, it sometimes seems as if Akashic Books' expanding line of noir story anthologies will wind up covering virtually every major metropolis on earth. Because less gritty burgs like Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Phoenix all have entries in the crime fiction series, it's only fair that Mexico City gets a nod.Read more »

Time travel

The Dashiell Hammett Tour leads the curious through San Francisco's alluring underbelly

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arts@sfbg.com

LIT Sometimes when I'm bored walking around Union Square, I wonder how many of the well-heeled white guys heading toward the Financial District are really criminal types who should be followed. Say, maybe some higher-up at Wells Fargo or Citigroup who helped rip off thousands through subprime loans before getting a nice slice of that sweet Wall Street bailout money.

When I'm feeling that way, I'm under the influence of a seminal 20th century writer who spent his most productive years in San Francisco. Here's a passage that sends me there:Read more »

St. Elvis?

John Carpenter-directed biopic Elvis resurfaces

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TV BIOPIC The John Carpenter-directed biopic Elvis hit network TV airwaves in 1979, ironically enough in the same time slot as that slice of Deep South Americana Gone With the Wind (1939). The Big E had expired just two years previously, and Elvis worship was in full flower. The TV movie thus squeezed out the Gable-Leigh epic to take top spot in the nation's hearts, for that night anyway.Read more »

Dames on the brain

Columbia's new two-volume, eight-film set "Bad Girls of Film Noir"
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DVD REVIEW Columbia's new two-volume, eight-film set "Bad Girls of Film Noir" is a delightful addition to any shelf of B-movies, and a damn good excuse to insist on using a friend's DVD projector. Read more »

Divided world

Tamim Ansary's Destiny Disrupted exposes western blind sides in relation to Islam
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Tamim Ansary is a gifted writer whose 2002 memoir West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story is a must-read for anyone wanting to know more about Afghanistan. Read more »

Unbuckling the swashbuckler

A new bio shines a light on what Douglas Fairbanks left behind
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REVIEW Given the phenomenal success of Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, a revival of appreciation for the granddaddy of all cinematic swashbucklers, Douglas Fairbanks, is long overdue. Read more »

Capitalmania

William I. Robinson's latest outlines a mad rush toward a world where cars consume cereal
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a&eletters@sfg.com

REVIEW UC Santa Barbara sociology professor William I. Robinson was recently in the news for having the temerity to criticize the Israeli military's assault on Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Right-wing groups including the ADL orchestrated a campaign attacking Robinson with the implication that any criticism of Israel's military abuses in the occupied territories somehow equates to anti-Semitism.

It would be nice if Robinson also received some press for the incredibly rich body of work he has produced in his career. Read more »

And justice for all

Brilliant, blacklisted legend Dalton Trumbo endures with a DVD release of Johnny Got His Gun
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TRUMPETING TRUMBO I read Dalton Trumbo's 1939 masterpiece of antiwar literature Johnny Got His Gun in high school. I went for anything which said that patriotic duty to die for one's country is bullshit — hence I loved it. Rereading it last year the book hit me harder. The writing is amazing, shot through with brilliance from start to finish — scathing, bitter, funny, righteous. Read more »

State of the movement

Antiwar activists struggle to maintain pressure for peace
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news@sfbg.com

As local antiwar activists continue to oppose the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, they are struggling to mobilize popular support under a presidential administration that is less overtly bellicose than the Bush regime.

Antonia Juhasz, author of The Bush Agenda (William Morrow, 2006) and last year's The Tyranny of Oil (William Morrow), has worked with a number of Bay Area antiwar groups. Read more »