In Nov: Red Curtain Variety Show

I’ll be stage managing (and possibly DJ’ing) this gem of a weekend at CELLspace in November. Long-time collaborators from the Funky Puppet Supper and CELLspace will be on stage, thrilling the audience with top-notch entertainment.

Hope you all can make it!

Red Curtain Variety Show
One Weekend Only!

For one short weekend this November comes an astounding array of talent, housed in one of San Francisco’s most beloved community theatre spaces. A collaboration between some of SF’s finest aerialists, dancers, clowns, and other artists. An evening of the wittiest of wit, the silliest of silly, and a guy who can stack up 7 chairs and do a handstand on them. Don’t miss the Red Curtain Variety Show!

Featuring: Westley Fredenburg as MC, Aerial performances by Eve Diamond, Soprano Diva Dian Meechai, poplocking manipulation from Devinio, the crazy clown antics of Judy & Punchy, Paradizo dance, puppetry by Alison Daniels, and more!

November 10th-13th.
Doors 7:30pm, Show 8pm.
CELLspace at 2050 Bryant St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
$15-$20 sliding scale, at the door Continue reading “In Nov: Red Curtain Variety Show”

CELL:15 :: Sunday Streets n Birthday BBQ

Sunday Streets was a great time on 19th and Valencia. I barely saw any other part of the event, but managed to hula hoop more than ever in my life. Got the hang of it and then started another trick. Will have to work on it next time. Bay Area Hoopers really filled out CELL’s area. We had maybe 15 hoopers at the most, many of them children who couldn’t resist trying it out. I didn’t realize that BAH has been spending wet season at CELLspace for 8 years now! Laura baked cookies and lemon squares for Sat. night’s Funkathon, so we had the extras to hand out and try to sell. I tried to get a Funky Puppet Supper reunion together for the day, but it just didn’t happen. The most committed alum, Nate Holguin, had to work an emergency shift at the Brava Theater. A few others alums stopped by to say hey and hang out.


After running an errand, I finally made it over to CELLspace for the birthday bbq. Dave X had several grills going, and Antonio and some of the hoopers had beaten me there. Nate was there, so I was glad to get to catch up with him after a long time of no seeing. Ben Smith, an early co-founder of CELLspace, stopped by as did several folks who saw the bbq advertised online. Soft, a former caretaker, just happened to be biking by, so he stopped for a burger and some hanging out.

Photographer Steve Rhodes showed up too. When Dave saw his camera, he asked if Steve could take a group photo by the Doggie Diner Heads. And he did. You can see them all here, along with some other photographs of the murals and Jeremy Novy’s latest additions. Right before I left for my 7pm appointment, CELL’s birthday cake was cut and being consumed. For some of the group shots, we sang “happy birthday” to CELL and then gave a hearty pirate “arrrrgh!” If you care to know, back in the CELLspace days of collective meetings, we approved all passed agenda items with a loud “arrrgh!”  Makes sense that the crowd at the bbq was more into the scream than the banal birthday song.

CELL:15 ended a great success. We got some press, made a little money, created a whole lot of community, and shared some good times with new and old friends. Like I said on FaceBook… “now we return to the regular program.”

CELL:15 Funkathon (video)

Here’s a YouTube of the band Action Jackson at CELLspace’s CELL:15 Funkathon Party. They were a great help, putting the “c” in community with their help repairing CELL’s stage, setting up all the extras, promoting the night, volunteering, and funking things out.

CELL:15 :: A Week of CELLebrations

CELLspace’s Week-Long 15th Birthday Celebration

Since 1996 “The Best Multiuse Facility” (SF Guardian) in San Francisco has played host to every type of artistic, creative project imaginable. CELLspace has enabled tens of thousands of artists and spectators to experience the rich creative culture of the Bay Area. To rejoice in these past 15 years of providing “a safe and supportive public environment for the exploration of art, education, performance and community building”, the artists, workers, and volunteers of 2050 Bryant would like to invite you all to spend some time with us during the first week of May. We have something for everyone so hope to see you at the space that is CELLspace.

Please visit for updates and more details.

At Every Class and Event
Raffle tickets will be on sale, giving away prizes form local businesses (see list below). Raffle to be drawn at the Action Jackson show on Saturday. You do not need to be present to win!
Continue reading “CELL:15 :: A Week of CELLebrations”

David Byrne at CELLspace (video)

At the CELL Events meeting several months before this event, we looked at the proposal that City Lights had filled out. Woah… David Byrne, Dave Eggers, and Michael Chabon reading at the CELLspace! I had read Eggers and Chabon, and loved house managing these type of events (you know, the events that end by midnight and have sober, adoring fans that don’t destroy things or fight). So I instantly offered to work this event.

When the day rolled around, I showed up a bit early, thinking that this was going to be a great opportunity to hang out with some amazing artists and writers. I was correct in thinking this: City Lights was well equipped to handle this event and showed up early as well to get things set up. The line of fans started early too, possibly three hours before the doors opened. Because of the stars in the house, I had a great crew of CELLspace folks helping with the set up. Pod was on tech and I can’t recall who was on the video. Actually, I think everyone who was working at CELL showed up to help out. Deborah even showed up and helped with the set up (she’s always good with event aesthetics).

When Byrne, Eggers, and Chabon rolled in, they were the most laid back bunch. David Byrne had no ounce of pretension on him. I introduced him to Pod, who got to work intimately with Byrne’s laptop. He was here to do a PowerPoint presentation after all. The line kept growing outside. I kept checking on them, making them laugh, answering their questions. They were extremely happy to be there, so that they could see David Byrne in an intimate warehouse setting. Local celebrities started showing up prior to doors. Beth Lisick and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were there, probably a pile of other people I have forgotten. Lisick wrote a great account of the reading portion for the SF Chronicle:

David Byrne was wandering through the capacity crowd at CELLspace last Sunday trying to find the bathroom, looking like somebody’s cool dad who’d gotten a little lost. The cavernous performance space was the perfect spot for the hundreds of fans who showed up to check out the triple-threat lineup of lit star Dave Eggers, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon and the visionary Byrne.

Eggers got things started with a few pieces he’d written under pseudonyms, immediately wrapping the crowd around his little finger, while Chabon read an excerpt from a story published in The New Yorker last April. (I was struck by the fact that when Chabon uttered the phrase “orange and purple velour” during his reading, no one made a sound, but the exact phrase, if uttered by Eggers, would have drawn a ripple of laughter from the room.)

But Byrne’s PowerPoint presentation about his new book, “The New Sins,” a written and photographic examination of religion, love, the afterlife and the human soul, was definitely the highlight. Funny, far out and gratifyingly profound. As he presented his ideas about virtues that are actually sins and why graphic designers have their own place in hell, I imagined a future with David Byrne as some sort of universal leader.

Lisick must have left after the readings, along with hundreds of other people, because she failed to write about the most amazing part of the night. As Byrne hung out with fans, some of whom gave him pieces of art, I stood at my usual by-the-bathrooms House Manager perch. Paradox Pollack, a caretaker living in 2048 Bryant, ran up to me from the main entrance. “I’m sorry! I can’t stop them!” he yelled at me in a pleading tone. “What are you talking about?” I asked.

Just then, from outside, a snare drum ratatatted loudly, echoing through the gallery. Then about 15 drums started, along with maybe a dozen horns. I looked at Paradox with surprise. “Extra Action Marching Band,” were the four words he told me, just when the motley crew entered the gallery space loud as hell. I turned around and considered running to Eggers and Byrne, apologizing for the anarchistic intrusion. Instead, I decided to let things run their course. Whenever Extra Action rolled into CELLspace, they did whatever the hell they wanted to do.

David Byrne loved the interruption from the fans. He’d been super nice to everyone who stood in line to meet him, but now he got up on the table where he was signing autographs and danced to the marching band. I walked over to stand with Pod and enjoy the moment. Paradox told us that Extra Action had gathered at 16th Mission BART and played all the way to Harrison Street. They then got quiet and walked to CELLspace so that they could make a surprise entrance. Paradox just happened to be on the sidewalk when they rolled up. So here they were, hurting our ears and making David Byrne laugh and dance.

Byrne liked them so much that he had Extra Action play with him at a concert in SF. He then took them on tour for a while. Eggers’ McSweeneys and City Lights had several more events at CELLspace around this time, mostly with authors that I’d read.

Once again, another amazing moment at the CELL.

CELLtv: World Remix III (video)

August rolled around in 2001 and the SoundLab couldn’t pull off a third concert three months in a row. I had an idea: Israeli master musician Yair Dalal was going to be in the United States in September. I had several of his CDs and loved his music. I found his website and cold-emailed him with the proposal of playing World Remix at CELLspace. Dalal plays many instruments and fiercely upholds his beliefs in peace for all peoples through music. His family hails from Iraq, making him a Mizrahi (Eastern) Jew. He always plays with Muslim, Christian, whatever-religion musicians with no hint of animosity towards their beliefs. When the Oslo Peace Accords were signed, Dalal set up a multinational orchestra that played in celebration of the event.

He was perfect for World Remix!

This flyer was never printed, and only used online. I took this photo during a 1999 trip to Israel. The hamsa design was based upon a stencil I had created and cut out for Chales Gadeken’s 2000 Illumination Project. The hand-written Hebrew and Arabic was from Deborah Ben-Eliezer’s cousin Roy (the IDF taught him to be fluent in Arabic). The Hebrew text to the right was taken from Yair Dalal’s CD insert and speaks on music and peace.

As the SoundLab tried to craft a concert around him, Dalal waited a while to confirm the gig. I assume that he was looking for better money and a better hall to play in. He didn’t find one, mostly because the Bay Area didn’t really know him, his politics, and his music. I got the Jewish Voice for Peace involved with the project and let them sell cabaret-table tickets for a higher price. They also got to serve concessions to the tables and took all the profits. The SoundLab got the door.

I also got Judy Cohen, a friend of Deborah Ben-Eleizer (whose father is from Iraq and attended the concert) to perform a one-woman piece about a sexual experience in Tel Aviv. I had seen Yuri Lane beat box about a year prior in Oakland, so tracked him down and booked him as an opener too. He rocked the house and went on to book CELLspace for a one-man show that sold out, got extended and then toured. I think the African band approached us to perform, and they ended up being OK and running way too long! Dalal was impatient to go on early: “If I play late, they will fall asleep to my music!” Deborah hosted the event, bridging the gap from the Middle East to San Francisco. DJ Sep barely played due to the over booked night (my mistake) but she got paid and thoroughly enjoyed the night.

About 250 people attended and World Remix again proved to have a deeply diverse audience. Dalal was nothing but sweet and supportive of the event and the space. Jef Stott got Jim Santi Owen to play tabla with Dalal, adding a great layer onto what would’ve been a duet with Dalal and his amazing percussionist. The event was nothing but perfect in my mind. Everything worked out and came together with flawless satisfaction. We even had an amazing camera shoot of the whole thing, which is what was edited down for the segment on CELLtv.

The night was full of politics, which was great for World Remix. Dalal told stories of meeting Palestinian musicians who had their hands chopped off because they played secular music or played with Israelis. He preached peace with his music and between songs. This concert was held September 6, 2001. Five days after that the World Trade Centers in New York City crumbled to the ground. For the rest of my life, I will never forget the contrast that happened within a week’s time: the peace, love, and music of an Iraqi-Israeli and the war, hatred, and death of 9-11. There was a radical innocence at World Remix III, and it was lost a week later.

The wars, invasions, occupations, and stupidity of the coming years dispersed the World Remix project. Not until Pod suggested a Romani Remix in 2005, which Jef and I pulled off to mediocre effect, did we try to recapture the magic. World Remix III helped me find my center just before the wind got knocked out on September 11. Yair Dalal came back several times to the Bay Area to teach Eastern-Jewish music to the community and was an artist-in-residence for the Jewish Music Festival.

I’ll never forget that amazing night of music at CELLspace.

CELLtv: World Remix II (video)

Pod had the idea all along that the World Remix concert series would run often and have a political angle of some sort. With a serious lack of funds to produce the series, we still somehow managed to pull a second concert together in a short time. I always leave out the “246(i)” in the title of the series. Not sure why, but Pod put that in there to signify something having to do with culture and borders. Pod and I also developed a mission statement: 246(i) World Remix is “a new concert series emphasizing cross-cultural collaboration and active social context.” I have to remind myself that this was just before the 9-11 attacks, so Pod and I thought that we were doing something different here in San Francisco. And we were seriously trying to create change in the world.

I made this flyer art with a scan of a shirt I had bought in Israel (the background) and an oud from a CD insert. The right side of the flyer was intentionally pixelated to symbolize Lumin’s roots in the traditional and the digital.

World Remix II starred Lumin and featured Ledoh. We mixed together digi-Middle Eastern styles with East European vocals and Japanese butoh dance. I can’t remember who we brought in to be our political/grassroots guests, but we made a point to politicize World Remix and thus the people that came to the events. I was getting great feedback about World Remix. These were some of the most diverse audiences that CELLspace had ever seen. Before our eyes, we were really remixing things!

This concert came off quite easy due to the fact that Jef Stott was one-third of Lumin and a hard-working member of the SoundLab. Delphine Mae was dancing with Ledoh and a member of the SoundLab as well. All the other groups were connected to Lumin somehow, and so we had an smooth production. I recall about 250 people attended World Remix II, and the band (or most of them) got paid.

Once again, glad that Jonathan captured it all on video and put it on (I think it was him).

CELLtv: World Remix I (video)

“This is a critical moment in history for reinstituting the lauguage(s) of music as the primary mode of human interaction from neighborhood to global relations” – World Remix I statement

Ten years ago, Pod, Jef Stott, and I (along with 5-6 other folks form the CELL SoundLab), got the idea of creating a music series that, if anything, mixed genres and indigenous styles in a way that made people scratch their heads. So we mixed Cali-style Qawwali with beatbox/tabla improv for our first World Remix concert. Simran Gleason, Deborah Ben-Eliezer, Rob Penn, and Andrew “Kid Beyond” Chaikin also filled in many gaps for this first attempt at bringing different people together in CELLspace (probably the most amazing place in San Francisco for doing this).

I recall Jonathan Youtt as the man behind the video for this event. Nothing but appreciation for everyone who put this music series together (with almost NO BUDGET), including Meyer Sound for getting conned into loaning us an amazing PA system!

Please Consider Donating to CELLspace

If you have ever wondered what I do with all my time that is not centered around stencils, then CELLspace would be one of the things I’d mention. Started in 1996 by a group of crazy, radical, creative artists, CELL has weathered many a storm as a funky underground arts facility. It became a nonprofit about ten years ago, and over $250,000 has been invested in building out the space to (slowly) meet code compliance with all the various government agencies in San Francisco. Right now, on the cusp of CELL’s 15th anniversary in March, the space is as close as it has ever been towards becoming a legit events facility. And it is still run by a bunch of crazy, radical, creative artists.

I started volunteering at CELLspace in 1998, soon after I had gotten hooked into documenting and making stencils. My love for stencils were encouraged during all my other projects at CELL, so I made stencils for shows, props, and eventually became a shadow puppetteer throwing negative space shadows on screens. I co-curated three stencil-specific shows at CELL: Negative Spaces, For the People, and Stencilada. Many of these other projects, shows, and productions were incubated and presented at CELL. Other artists like Swoon, Jef Aerosol, Scott Williams, and Peat Wollaeger have also added their art to CELL’s exterior walls over the years.

And I have been curating and making murals on both of CELL’s walls these past few years. Long before I took interest in CELL’s outside walls, many artists have sprayed and painted their art. Spray graffiti has a long tradition at CELLspace, and it’s former satellite annex the Mission Village Flea Market (this is where the Bike Kitchen began). There is still a bboy and bgirl night every Monday at the CELL.

Right now, San Francisco is cracking down hard on any space that is not 100% legal. The locals here call it the War on Fun, which has been waged for the past two years. Add a shitty economy and an internal re-organization (CELL transformed back into an all-volunteer run space about three years ago), and you have an amazing warehouse space in a tight fit.

And we’re so close!

Below is the email that we are sending out to help raise $$ for the space. I hardly ever ask for your financial support (beyond the book links at the top of this page), but now is the time to help an amazing art project get over the final hump. I have already written a check and $6,000 has been raised so far.

If I ever had an inspiration to be an artist, then it is the CELLspace and all those amazing people who have walked in the doors (David Byrne, Extra Action Marching Band, Flaming Lotus Girls, Dave Eggers, Perry Ferrell, Bassnectar, Yard Dogs, Bishop Joey, Matmos, Point Break Live, Michael Franti, Chicken John, Cardboard Institute of Technology, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Art and Revolution, and many many more).

thanks for all your support,




Those of you who have been to CELLspace know how magical and unique our 2050 Bryant Street location is; it is one of the last spaces of its kind in the Bay Area.

For several months, in a joint venture with San Francisco IndieFest, CELLspace has been preparing for the final stages of installing a new fire exit as required by the City of San Francisco Planning Department. This new fire exit is critical to becoming an adequate Place of Assembly. Without it we will not be able to host any large events of any kind. Event rentals pay 75% of our core operating expenses.

Unfortunately as we were prepared to start construction in December, new ordinances requiring us to add additional new features to the construction stopped our progress. These additional features will cost us much more than our initial required renovation. Of course, we have also lost valuable time and opportunities to earn revenue through events. Now more than ever we are feeling the blow of this lost income during the construction period, when we are so close to expanding what CELLspace can provide for the community. Any further setbacks, and CELLspace will be significantly crippled in its efforts.

We now turn to you, our friends, our community. Please help us to raise $25,000 by January 31, 1011. This $25,000 will help to cover the costs of new plans and permits as well as cover lost event revenue during this now prolonged permitting revision. This past week we raised $5000 in donations from our own active members, but is still not enough to keep our doors open.

Please give anything you can today. Donations are tax deductible. Every bit helps, and we can do this together to make sure CELLspace can continue to offer it’s diverse programming for the people of the Bay Area to enjoy. We hope to have a celebration and thank you party for all our supporters at the conclusion of this drive.

Until we meet this goal, we will not be able to allow event producers, community groups, or art patrons to rent our wonderfully versatile and affordable main space. Please donate via this PayPal link.

Thank you in advance for your years of support and involvement. We wouldn’t be the same without you. Please forward this email on.

With hope and gratitude,