Nicole Gluckstern

The Performant: Adrift on survival riffs and life rafts

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Recent trends on the arts and culture scene

As long as there has been art, I imagine that the phrase “starving artist” has been in use. I like to imagine prehistoric cave painters stopping halfway through a particularly thrilling rendition of a successful buffalo hunt to halt operations and hold a fundraising party. “Grod, your donation of three chunks of limestone and a sharpened flint chip will help to fund the portraiture of no fewer than five renegade buffalo heading over the edge of the cliff.” But it helps put the sacrifices made in art’s name into perspective when confronted with art created on the very fringes, where “starving” can be more than just a catchphrase but a grim reality. Read more »

The Performant: Upright Citizen’s Brigade and Fly Trap Theatre spelunk the absurd

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Reviews of recent arts and culture happenings

When asked by the Upright Citizen’s Brigade touring company last Friday what his motto in life was, the random guy onstage we’ll call Nick (because that’s what he called himself) said “abandon all hope ye who enter here,” which seemed a little heavy for an evening of comedy, but the UCB took it in stride. This influential improv group, hosted locally by Bay Area improvisers Pan Theater, plumbed the depths of Nick’s predilections and peccadilloes with gusto. Got hit by an SUV on your motorcycle, must be those preciously extended pinkies, dude. Got slapped down by a bio-bitch down the street—why don’t you stick with the steampunk tranny hos in your own backyard? Why not launch a string of rockets into the street and call it installation art? Why not make sandwiches with a block of cheese containing the cremated ashes of your loved ones?

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The Performant: When I die I will be offcenter

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Scoping out the local arts and culture scene ...

If there were a Best of the Bay category for performance space with the catchiest moniker, I’ve always felt that Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory had a clear lock on the title. That’s just one of the many things about the place I’ll miss when it shuts its doors, possibly for good, at the end of this month (though a loose association of affiliated artists including acting MCVF director Ernesto Sopprani, have announced their intention to continue as Theoffcenter, so look for future programming from them in an as-yet-undetermined location).

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The Performant: Shrouds Illuminated at the LAB and Garage

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Nicole Gluckstern reports on the Bay Area arts and culture scene

It sounds a little strange, but I’ve been thinking about shrouds. Not in a morbid way, just in the practical sense. Mostly I wonder what kind of material gets used. Movie mummy shrouds always seem to be made of cheesecloth, but that strikes me as a little flimsy for a swaddled delivery into the afterlife. Actually, speaking of swaddling, doesn’t it seem a little curious that babies and corpses should be wrapped so similarly -- at least in the days before they invented the Tickle-Me-Elmo onesie?

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Up Mission Creek with Mark Matos and Os Beaches

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 I had a “hold me closer, Tony Danza,” moment when I first heard the hyper-localized anthem “High Priest of the Mission,” on Mark Matos and Os Beaches’ 2009 Porto Franco release Words of the Knife. I thought Matos sang “the high priest of omission,” then I suspected that maybe he was singing “the high priest of submission,” which gave the song an entirely different slant. Read more »

Get your kicks

Where to score some big-screen World Cup action, from Civic Center to North Beach

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To thrill is divine

Thrillpeddlers takes its revivalism seriously, in Spandex

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Whatever it takes

Israeli defense technique Krav Maga goes for the throat

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Mark Growden hits with a "Judas" kiss

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It’s been eight years since Mark Growden, local bad boy of the accordion (and the bicycle handlebars), last recorded a studio album, and the weathering of not a few storms layers his lyrics with a weight typically reserved for bellowers of dust-bowl ballads and feverish Appalachia-born hymns. But though Growden -- who'll be performing Wed/11-Sun/14 at the Porto Franco Art Parlor -- captures the sorrow and sincerity of a high lonesome crooner, his unique instrumental blend of Dixieland, Frontierland, and gypsy caravan band inhabits a genre all its own, especially on the new Saint Judas (Porto Franco).

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Underground and proud

Dan Carbone evokes the most unconventional of worlds -- and does it his way

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THEATER It's difficult enough to want to perform in San Francisco without the added hardship of not quite fitting into someone else's concept of "performance." And the unclassifiable Dan Carbone must surely be one of the hardest acts to shoehorn into a hapless festival curator's vision. Read more »