Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bike Monkey vs. Saul Bass

Posted By on Sat, Jan 28, 2012 at 11:43 PM

Maybe it's because it my all-time favorite movie, but when the Bernard Herrmann score from the unfuckwithable Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo was hijacked and reused in The Artist, I sided with Vertigo star Kim Novak: "My body of work has been violated by The Artist," she said. "I believe this kind of filmmaking trick to be cheating. Shame on them!"

To no one's surprise, The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius defended the usage as a tribute, which is what everybody says when they steal an idea verbatim without adding anything of their own to it. Taking music from a very famous movie and putting it in your movie is not a "tribute." It's just a stupid thing to do.

Yo, Hazanavicius! Take a cue from Bike Monkey, who actually pay tribute to Vertigo by at least slightly manipulating some of Saul Bass' title design for the cover of their latest issue:


See what they did there? See how they changed it, so that it fits a magazine called Bike Monkey? See how they're not trying to pull one over on anybody, but slyly tip the hat to a master? (Like Antioch Arrow did with their stenciled Man With the Golden Arm-inspired LP?)

That's how it's done.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Handcar Regatta to Return as Kinetic Frenetic Opera

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM

The Hennepin Crawler, in 2008.
  • The Hennepin Crawler, in 2008.

Ty Jones walks around Railroad Square, relieved and excited.

Relieved because just last week, he and Handcar Regatta co-founder Spring Maxfield—with lawyers, both—officially dissolved the Handcar Regatta name. "It was like a divorce," Jones explains. "We had different ideas about the way things should work, and they way companies should work. I've got nothing bad to say about her."

Excited because this morning, he's announced Dr. Erasmus P. Kitty’s Kinetic Frenetic Opera of Mechanical Mayhem, a Regatta-esque festival planned for Summer 2012 "featuring music, film, performance, and kinetic railcar mayhem."

No exact location is set for the event, but that doesn't get in the way of Jones' many ideas for the new event, which he plans as a multi-day arts festival that perhaps "won't look like the Regatta."

"It'll still be a rail race," he says, adding that he's been talking to some of the old Regatta crew, gearing up for another run. "But one of the ideas with the Regatta is that it would expand to incorporate these ancillary events"—he mentions the Wiskeydrunk Cycles gang, the Feed Barn in Rincon Valley. "So how can it spin off into the community, and foster the arts?"

Jones cites the Sonoma Arts Council's recent move to Rohnert Park as a symbol of the splintered nature of the arts community in Santa Rosa, and recognizes that the Regatta represented a coming together of disparate organizations.

Just this week, Jones has been in talks with Chops Teen Center and the Sixth Street Playhouse, but he's not counting on being able to return to the Santa Rosa railroad tracks, where SMART has development planned. Last September, SMART informed Jones and Maxfield that the site wouldn't be available in 2012 due to construction for the long-awaited SMART train.

The Frenetic Kinetic Opera could be held along the tracks in Windsor or Healdsburg—anywhere north of Coddingtown, really—but if construction hasn't yet begun in Santa Rosa by summertime, Jones is hoping that SMART will see the value of hosting the festival again in Depot Park.

I can think of 15,000 others who've attended and loved the Handcar Regatta in Santa Rosa, and who'll be hoping the same thing.

Wherever it's held, Jones says, "it's just too much fun to let it go."

For more, cue up the Frenetic Kinetic Opera whirly-gig virtual bulletin of web-site bill-posting.

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What's Up with Citizens United?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 10:52 AM

I spent last week researching and interviewing for this week's news story "Taking the Power Back: Fighting Citizens United on the Local Front."

In the course of working the article, I had to teach myself about the ins and outs of the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The more I dug into the story, the more complicated it became (not so unusual), especially when state and federal campaign finance rules and regulations are taken into account.

This video, created by the people behind the Story of Stuff, was one of the resources that helped me to understand the generalities and implications of the Supreme Court's decision to grant unlimited power to corporations when it comes to election campaign spending. The fact that it's a cartoon, made in a way that even an eight-year-old could understand, was a plus.

The Move to Amend website contains more information about the proposed amendment, along with information about the Occupy the Courts action scheduled for Friday, January 20 across the U.S.

And finally, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert having been having fun over at Comedy Central with the whole notion of Super PACs.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Volagi Beats Specialized; Owes Them $1

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 2:49 PM


In an astounding conclusion to a week-long trial in San Jose, the owners of Cotati bike company Volagi have been ordered to pay cycling giant Specialized just $1 in damages for breach of contract.

"Best dollar we ever spent," Volagi posted on Twitter.

The jury announcement was made today, and sends a clear message about noncompete clauses, says Volagi co-owner Robert Choi. "We hope that the jury is sending a message to Specialized that this was unjust in a way," he told Bike Radar today, immediately after the trial.

All charges against Barley Forsman were dropped. Technically, Choi was found in violation of a noncompete clause by helping found Volagi while still employed by Specialized, but the symbolic $1 in damages shows the jury obviously felt that the "Big S" wasn't hurt in a substantial way.

Volagi was also able to keep their Longbow Flex patent, their frame design and "the color red."

Specialized Mike Sinyard issued his own statement to Bike Radar: “This lawsuit was a matter of principle and about protecting our culture of trust and innovation. We respect the ruling of the court in our favor. We are very satisfied with the outcome and the damages set at $1.00. We really want to put all our passion and time into growing the sport of cycling.”

In researching this week's Bohemian news story on the case, I looked through Specialized's very aggressive pre-trial brief, and I somehow doubt that Sinyard is "very satisified" with a $1 payment, especially considering that Specialized was demanding restitution of $1.5 million in legal fees alone.

For their part, Volagi appears to be planning a 100-cyclist ride from Cotati to Specialized's Morgan Hill headquarters to settle their debt. "Each one must bring a penny," their Twitter feed says.

For more, see this week's news story about the local bike community's reaction to the lawsuit.

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Extended Play: Tuskegee Airmen and the Freeman Field Mutiny

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Officers of the 477th Bombardment Group at Freeman Field, Indiana.
  • Public Domain
  • Officers of the 477th Bombardment Group at Freeman Field, Indiana.

In this week’s cover story, we remember the military’s first black pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen. During World War II, this elite group faced discrimination and insidious sabotage from the very War Department whose bombers they were sworn to protect. Despite this, the famed 99th Squadron — and later the 332nd Fighter Group — fought valiantly, losing few planes, setting new records and participating in some of WWII’s cornerstone battles.

But according to Santa Rosa Airman James Goodwin, the skies of Italy weren’t the fighters’ only battleground. While the 332nd was fighting Germans, the 477th, a Tuskegee-trained group that would never go overseas, was fighting segregation in the south. Leslie Williams, a 92-year-old San Mateo resident and member of the 477th participated in the events of the famed Freeman Field Mutiny, in which 162 arrests were made.

“We were unhappy because we had more people at Freeman Field than the white officers did, but we couldn’t use the officers’ club or tennis courts,” Williams recalls. This feeling was exacerbated by the fact that white officers were often promoted much faster than the black pilots. “They would be teaching us, and they hadn’t even gotten as much experience as us,” Williams says.

On April 5, 1945, several groups of three black officers entered the all-white club. They were refused service. When they were sure they were being discriminated against as a whole, the men donned their best uniforms and made an orderly parade to the club door. “Someone told the white officers that we were coming, so they stationed someone outside the front door,” Williams recalls. Sixty-one officers were arrested.

Charges were eventually dropped against all but three officers, who were then sent to what Williams calls “The Stockade.” At Fort Knox in Kentucky, Williams says they were placed in a special, high-security wing of the prison. “It was a stockade in every sense of the word. There were barbed wire fences and floodlights and they couldn’t get in or out. They could look out from the barbed wire fence and see German prisoners of war who were more free than they were,” he says.

Two of them were eventually released, but one, Lieutenant Roger Terry, was convicted of jostling the officer stationed at the club door and received a dishonorable discharge. “That’s like a felony,” Williams says. “He endured the stigma from that for many years. That’s what prejudice is all about.”

Meanwhile, 101 officers were briefly arrested (some for a second time) for refusing to sign a document stating that officers’ clubs would be segregated. The atmosphere was strained even for those who weren’t arrested, Williams says. “We couldn’t assemble in groups of three. It was a very tense time,” he remembers.

News of the arrests spread nation-wide, and due to pressure from labor unions, black organizations and politicians, charges against the 101 were dropped. Several black pilots were elevated to command roles afterward as well. Truman didn’t sign his order integrating the military until 1948, but Williams says the 477th sees their protests as at least partially responsible for his decision.

“We all feel, all of us, that we helped instigate that,” he says.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Santa Rosa Rally Against Wells Fargo and Private Prisons

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 at 2:08 PM

On Friday, Jan. 6, Occupy Santa Rosa joined with the Committee for Immigrant Rights, the Graton Day Labor Center and other Sonoma County organizations in a rally and march against Wells Fargo's position as an institutional holder of stock in Geo Group, Inc. The for-profit corporation builds, maintains and runs private prisons, including immigration detention centers in Arizona and California. For more information, check out a news blast from the Dec. 28 issue of the Bohemian.


Maureen Purtill and Jesus Guzman of the Graton Labor Center speak to the crowd of about 200 in front of the old Albertson's on Sebastopol Road about Wells Fargo and the rally. Purtill translated everything into Spanish.




"It's wonderful to see the Occupy movement really out in embracing the immigration rights movement," said Richard Coshnear, an immigrant rights attorney from Santa Rosa. After discussing the profit motives and laundry list of offenses at immigration detention facilities in the United States, he said, "The treatment of prisoners in detention is bad, but it's worse in for-profit private institutions."


Juan Cuandon and an unidentified man portray people held in detention at a private prison during a theater performance just before the march to the downtown branch of Wells Fargo Bank.


David Ortega of Occupy Petaluma rode his bike to the march from Petaluma. He was joined by Wendy-O Matik who rode her bike from Sebastopol.


85-year-old Marjorie Golden came out to support the fight for immigrant rights and the Occupy movement.


Two people were arrested outside of Wells Fargo after they attempted to "mic check" inside of the downtown branch, according to Occupy Santa Rosa organizer Carl Patrick. The bank locked its doors just after the protestors arrived. Police did not allow anyone on the property, including press, claiming "private property." Wells Fargo representatives did not respond to a written request from the Bohemian to speak about the closing of the bank or the protest.


Jerry Camarata of Sonoma County said that the orange jumpsuits printed with Sonoma County Jail symbolize the connection between private detention centers and the Secure Communities program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "They are allowing undocumented workers to open accounts while funding these private detention centers that profit off of the same workers," said Camarata.


As bank customers approached the doors of Wells Fargo and found it locked in the middle of the day, many walked away grumbling about the inconvenience of the protest. "I love my bank," said this woman, who refused to give her name. "You can kiss my ass!" Soon after, she nearly got into an altercation with a protestor while retrieving money from the ATM.


Not everyone found the rally and protest inconvenient. Here, the protestors cheer after one man, upon hearing about the possible connection between Wells Faro and immigration detention centers, said that he was going to move his money to another bank.

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