Heart of the City Archives

The dancing feet of Miss Jean Anderson, San Francisco's tap queen, in a 1999 video.









Twisting away on an San Francisco high
by Hank Donat

"The city will never be the same again," said Assessor Mabel Teng at the wedding reception for gay couples at the Hyatt Regency on February 22. Ebullient same-gender couples, President George W. Bush's weapons of mass distraction, continue to tie the knot at City Hall in the wake of Mayor Gavin Newsom's historic move.

As a Wedstock groom, I've been asked if I'm embarrassed because I distrusted Newsom near the end of the campaign. The answer is no, I'm not embarrassed. I think it's wise to distrust politicians. And, I've changed my mind about Newsom. "It's good to change your mind," Bohemia author Herb Gold tells me. If it's good for Gold, it's good for me, too!

San Francisco continues to be a nexus of great art and artists. Academy Award winning filmmaker Philip Kaufman's new made-in-SF thriller Twisted premiered over the weekend.

Twisted, with Ashley Judd as a homicide inspector who's her own best suspect, includes some cameos by a few local favorites. Pine Sol lady and comic Diane Amos, Jeanette Etheridge of Tosca, and the Pier 39 sea lions all appear. You can blink and won't miss them, but don't blink twice.

Kaufman's latest was filmed at Tosca, the Saloon, Palace of Fine Arts, Red's Java House, Pacific Avenue near the Julius Kahn Playground, and out on the bay. City Hall, the old Mint, the Hills Bros. Building, Crissy Field, and Pac Bell Park also appear.

Kaufman's 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was also shot here. In it, Kaufman captures a mysterious, rain soaked city. It's a great film for a Sunday in winter.

Sony Holland is a jazz vocalist who loves San Francisco. Her new CD, "On a San Francisco High," is on Van Ness Records. Sony's husband Jerry Holland composed the disc's 11 tracks, which include Chestnut Street, In Marin, Lovely to be Lonely, and Whirlwind Romance.

A CD release party for "San Francisco High" is set for April 21 at Kim Nalley's reinvigorated Pearl's Jazz on Columbus Avenue. Jazz Review critic John Gilbert called Holland sultry and aristocratic.

Rick Gerharter is a local photographer whose images of the city appear in better travel guides such as Lonely Planet. Gerharter, who holds a degree in Urban Studies, really gets around when he's not shooting his hometown.

His Cuba Panorama, a series of sixteen original photographs, is currently on display at the World Affairs Council Library, 312 Sutter Street, through April 23. The show is a selection of panoramic images of Cuba, highlighting the beauty of the country and the vitality of its people. For more information call 293-4647.

"Vanishing San Francisco" is an exhibit of paintings by David Holmes on display at the City Picture Frame Gallery, 524 Third Street, beginning March 1.

Holmes' San Francisco isn't a picture postcard, but it's one in which most San Franciscans live. A photorealist, Holmes depicts the impact of development and gentrification on the urban landscape.

Thanks to neighbors like Barbara Fenech, the Portola District has a burgeoning personality. Two Gateway Monument signs were dedicated on Saturday at Mansell and San Bruno Avenue, the result of community effort.

Fenech and members of the San Francisco Organizing Project got tired of seeing Portola lumped in with the Excelsior or the Bay View. "We want to have our own identity," says Fenech.

The new monuments announce, "Welcome to Portola." Next steps in the revitalization of the San Bruno Avenue shopping corridor include roadwork from Silver to Wilde Avenue, followed by several tree plantings and the installation of new benches.

The 22nd San Francisco Asian American film festival starts Thursday, March 4. The hot ticket is for Friday night's screening of Shanghai Express at the Castro Theatre at 7 p.m. Released in 1932, Shanghai Express is one of the best films in the partnership of Marlene Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg, but it's the unsung performance of Anna May Wong that's celebrated here.

Wong's performances helped to codify cinematic stereotypes of Asian women. A panel that includes the actress Nancy Kwan will discuss Wong's career at the Castro Sunday night. Wong played Linda Low in the set-in-SF musical Flower Drum Song in 1961. (Jan Wahl is somewhere singing, "Grant Avenue, San-Fran-cisco!")

Farewell Favorite: San Francisco lost a great performing arts pioneer on February 19, when dancer, teacher and choreographer, Miss Jean Anderson died at the age of 83. Anderson founded the first integrated dance school in the city and taught such greats as Bob Fosse, Peter Mintun, and Billy Philadelphia.

Anderson performed at the 1939 World's Fair in San Francisco, in the city's "Mayday Festival" with Ralph Murray, and was a featured performer for years with the official "San Francisco City Band." During World War II she entertained the troops with the USO. Anderson wrote one of the earliest songs honoring the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Copyright 2004 Hank Donat
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