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The Society Page

Where has the Actors Theatre in Nob Hill gone? Their website is down, their phone number has been disconnected, and I haven't found anything in the local press about them disappearing. If they are defunct, it's a shame. I remember  working for a direct mail company in '95 and arranging a promotion for one of their plays. I think it was Four Dogs and a Bone, which featured Paget Brewster before she made it semi-big. Update: They just relocated.

A few issues ago, in the online-only Herald, there was a feature about Almost Live, a sketch comedy show in the '90s, which was the Saturday Night Live of Seattle. Congratulations to one of the writers for the show, Bob Nelson (who played Wally Hoagland – Crappy Cult Leader) as he wrote the screenplay for the critically-acclaimed movie Nebraska, starring Bruce Dern.

Create, Mix, and Mingle, where you can create art as you have a birthday party, a date, or an office conference, opened recently in downtown San Mateo.

Also in San Mateo: The Spot on 25th, a new cafe with soups, sandwiches, vegetarian juices, and other California-type stuff, has opened on W. 25th Avenue. (If you're reading the San Mateo edition of this publication with a full page back cover ad for the San Mateo Coffee Company, which is right across the street, please ignore what I just wrote.)

Remember Kate Garner, the female half of the eccentric '80s pop duo Haysi Fantayzee? No? I don't blame you, they didn't last long. They wore overalls and had the caucasian version of Rastafarian hair, like Dexy's Midnight Runners – a fashion statement that never caught on. Quirky songs, too - “Shiny, Shiny” and “John Wayne is Big Leggy” to name a couple. Kate is still lovely and now spends her time between London and San Francisco as a successful photographer. I tried contacting her for an interview, but the
email kept bouncing back to me. Visit to view her work.

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On a similar note: Since I have no life, I was surfing the web and discovered that Christina Amphlett, the sexy lead singer of Australian band Divynls (not The Divynls, as their Wikipedia page points out) died in April 2013 of breast cancer at age 53. So sad. That 1991 album of theirs with “I Touch Myself” was probably the last hurrah of '80s pop before the grunge explosion a few years later. “I Touch Myself” was one of Ace Backwords' favorite songs. (I'm not being sarcastic – he told me that once.) “Love School” and “If Love Was a Gun” were my favorites. RIP Christina.

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The Friendly Local Retail Worker Award for this issue goes to Richard at Lowe's Home Improvement. Not “Night Shift Richard” (though who knows, he may be a nice guy too, I never met him). This award goes to “Day Shift Richard”. If you want to visit Richard, he's the black guy with the construction hard-hat that has “GET 'ER DONE” written on it. He told me he was a screenwriter and would send some of his writing but never did. He was probably too busy smiling and greeting customers. Richard, we salute you.

Shirley Temple Black, a Bay Area resident (of Woodside) recently passed away. And since this column is supposed to be about other people but always ends up being about me, I'd like to tell you about my personal experience with her. In 1988, as I was finishing up getting my useless degree at San Jose State, I had a part-time job at a bookstore near where she lived.

As she sat at a table autographing books, I sensed something could have gone horribly wrong. So I told this black guy named Nate (that was his real name, but let's call him “Nate') that we should properly monitor the situation. So Nate and I stood behind Ms. Black. I think I folded my arms, showing off my biceps, and Nate stood at attention with his hands behind his back. Or maybe it was the other way around. I forgot.

Anyway, visually, we let it be known that if any of these smiling, geriatric, adoring women, clutching copies of the author's book in their hands, got out of line – well, it wouldn't be pretty. Then I heard something. Someone. A voice. Not a voice of one of the fawning women telling Ms. Black how much they loved her.

No. This voice was sinister. I turned to my right. And then I saw it.

It was my supervisor telling Nate and I to get the hell away from the author's table. That we looked ridiculous. I knew it. Something was bound to go wrong today. Life isn't some Good Ship Lollipop.

Happy 25th birthday to Farley's Coffee in San Francisco's Potrero Hill. Way to go, Roger... Danielle Cohen's Urban Air Night Market, complete with food trucks and various vendors selling knick-knacks – I mean art – happens Monday nights throughout the summer, in SoMa, near the DNA Lounge... Glass Key Photo in the Haight wants to buy your old cameras... Nice gal (new transplant to SF from Nashville) tending the bar at Cabin (formerly Bigfoot Lodge) on Polk Street.

Last issue I mentioned how idiotic (yet disingenuous) those radio ads for “California Alliance for Jobs” were. That's the one where local alleged political satirist Will Durst tells us how desperately we need these total waste of taxpayer money government boondoggles, like the High Speed Rail, and implies these projects will benefit many California workers, instead of just some overpaid union members. Well, that commercial still has the most offensive message, but presentation-wise, Will has met his match. This issue's winner for The Most Annoying Radio Ad Currently On The Air is.... drumroll please... that loud hip-hop type chick talking – actually, YELLING – about, which helps obnoxious people like her locate the cars they want. Congratulations, dear!

Recently I kept humming a tune that was an unlikely hit from a one hit wonder band in the mid-90s called Squirrel Nut Zippers. The song was called “Hell” , which warned its listeners that things may be OK here on Earth, but look out when you hit “the other side”. It had a swing sound to it (remember how swing was big in the '90s with bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy?) but overall, the band had a more eclectic approach to music (or at least that's what their Wikipedia page claims – I never heard their other material).

“Our drummer was into punk,” was what Katharine Whalen, the lovely and talented female singer for the band told me during our phone interview. (I Googled the band, saw her new solo recordings online, left her an email, and she got back to me right away.) “We weren't really swing. Those swing bands were more accomplished musicians. We were pretty inexperienced.”

When I, rudely I guess, referred to Squirrel Nut Zippers as a one hit wonder band, she replied calmly, “That album went gold. So did the second one. Actually, what comes first? Oh, they went platinum.” Being called a one hit wonder didn't seem to move her one way or the other.

She still lives on the same farm she's lived on since she was a teenager, about 45 minutes from Raleigh. She still gets asked occasionally for an autograph. She was a single mother when the band broke up, and is now married to an elementary school teacher. She earns a living by making hats, and is attending college to get a teacher's credential.

Can you picture Courtney Love shrugging off brief stardom in the '90s as just another thing she did in life?

“The only difference was that the tour bus used to pull up in front of the farm and now it doesn't.”

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Katharine Whalen

Coming to Slim's: The Damned, 6/4. Buzzcocks, 6/6. World Party, 6/21. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, 7/7. Coming to the Independent: Electric Six, Yip Deceiver, 6/12. Dirty Dozen Brass Band, 6/13. NVO, 6/20. Coming to SAP Center in San Jose: Lady Gaga, 6/3. Cher, 7/2. Justin Timberlake, 8/11. Bruno Mars, 8/15. Coming to the Fox Theater in Oakland: Steve Winwood, 6/26. Glen Hansard, 8/7. Brand New, 8/8. Coming to Harvey's in Lake Tahoe: Rascal Flatts, Sheryl Crow, 8/24. At the Marin County Fair in San Rafael, 7/2-6: Huey Lewis and the News, The Wailers, Night Ranger, Elvin Bishop, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Portals: Doors and Windows in Our Lives, 7/2-27, Aegis Gallery of Fine Art in Saratoga (by the way, according to recent crime statistics, Saratoga is the safest city in California).

Brazilian Blowout is a revolutionary hair straightening technique, and the Bay Area is now home to the only salon in the world completely dedicated to it. James Griffith has opened Brazilian Blowout Bar right next to his Salon Blu at 2255 The Alameda in Santa Clara, not far from the safest city in California. (Look for his ad in the San Jose area edition of the Herald.)

San Rafael Art & Wine Festival, 8/9. In The City: Fillmore Jazz Festival, 7/5&6. Noe Valley Wine Walk, 8/21. Ghiradelli Chocolate Festival, 9/13 & 14.

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Our own Shannon Wheeler has illustrated a new book. Here's the 411 on it from

God Is Disappointed in You is for people who would like to read the Bible... if it would just cut to the chase. Stripped of its arcane language and its interminable passages of poetry, genealogy, and law, every book of the Bible is condensed down to its core message, in no more than a few pages each. Written by Mark Russell with cartoons by New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler, God Is Disappointed in You is a frequently hilarious, often shocking, but always accurate retelling of the Bible, including the parts selectively left out by Sunday School teachers and church sermons. Irreverent yet faithful, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to see past the fog of religious agendas and cultural debates to discover what the Bible really says.

One more music note before we go. In the '90s I recall driving around in my gas-guzzling '77 red Chevy Impala listening to a CD titled Tempted, from a New York electronic male/female duo called The Waterlillies (yes, spelled that way). Great CD. There's the title track, a dance semi-hit (“Never Get Enough”) and a beautiful cover of The Carpenters' “Close to You”. The duo just disappeared after that. Jill Alikas-St. Thomas became a music teacher in Costa Rica, and Ray Carroll did some work with Depeche Mode and Madonna before vanishing. Check their stuff out online.

Now on SanFranciscoHerald.Net...

Almost Famous

By Kimberlye Gold

“Will Champlin”

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“The Earth vs. Lee Harvey Wembley”, a Good Clean Fun comic from 2001.

The Society Page column from Summer 2012 which reflected on “Almost Live” - the “Saturday Night Live” of Seattle in the 1990s.

All contents © 2011 by Gene Mahoney