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,



what more can i say today. found this stencil on the bike ride home from Alcatraz.


Giving Thanks on Alcatraz

The last time I got up early to take the ferry to the Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving, I had many things weighing heavy on my mind. This 2005 day of thanks gave me little room to be thankful beyond the fact that I was alive and able to feel all the intense emotions coursing through me. Getting up that early didn’t brighten my mood either, until I was on the ferry and able to feel the power of community, song, and radical native medicine. As the ferry trolled over the Bay, I thought of all the troubles that the Native North Americans had seen over the generations. I thought of the troubles my Irish ancestors probably faced against the English occupation forces. I thought of all the many struggles for justice and peace that take place every day across the world. This opened my heart up a bit, just a small amount, allowing me to sit with my own present struggles and fell the common thread of humanity’s suffering.

Continue reading “Giving Thanks on Alcatraz”

A Trip Down Market St.

Sit patiently through the Viagra commercial(s) and you will be in for a treat. “60 Minutes” journalist Morley Safer shares a film, and some new historical twists, about San Francisco’s Market Street. Back in 1906, two brothers put a camera in front of a street car, hand-cranked the box as they moved down the “Slots”, and caught an amazing sight of everyday San Francisco. You’ll see anarchic traffic patterns, random pedestrians, no traffic lights, teamsters, newsboys, and a bike or two. You’ll also see a city center that sprung up in mere decades thanks to the Gold Rush of 1849.

Biking down that street every week for the past dozen or so years, and still feeling the residue of an older time, the thrill of seeing this film never diminishes. Now Safer has connected the past to the present, lovingly filming 2010 Market Street and the City I call home while giving the old film new perspective. New proof shows that the film was made a week before the earthquake and the huge fires that burned the whole area to the ground. And, now that we all know it captured buildings that would soon be destroyed, and San Franciscans who would soon perish and/or suffer, “A Trip Down Market Street’s” mystique grows deeper.

I was biking down Market St. in 2005 one Sunday morning on the way to open up the Box Office at Teatro ZinZanni. I had cut over to Mission Street to get on to Embarcadero, and I saw the oddest sight: a roofless, antique street car that looked like a maintenance vehicle. Perched on the front of this odd machine was an expensive digital camera. I biked by with a shrug, and thought it was a Hollywood film shoot. A few months later, I was treated to my first viewing of the original film (thought to have been made in 1905) as well as the new one that commemorated San Francisco’s Market Street a century later. Of course my friend Chris Carlsson is in the new film, and had invited me to see the public premiere just off Market Street at the Embarcadero. Here is the video from 2005:

Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Sun. Notes

Summing Up, and “The Education of the Warrior”

KEY THING – teachings broaden our toleracne for all pervasive, unavoidable uncertainty. TR: If fear and doubt arise towards fundamental uncertainty, then humans react and start to go into a cocoon…. We hide ourselves in caves and jungles.

We’re trying to find something to hold on to. Pain arises when we go into that cocoon to avoid uncertainty. A fearful society can develop because of this.

This weekend is a plea to relax into that uncertainty. Manifesting a healthy world starts with human’s courage to turn towards uncertainty. Worst of times are best of times because that makes uncertainty become unavoidable. We need to begin to engage in what we’ve been avoiding our whole lives. GENTLENESS cannot be written big enough when facing uncertainty. If we transform ourselves personally bases upon compassion-based living, then society will follow.

Touch in briefly, starting with the body. Then with emotions. Come to know fear itself, “sip by sip.”

Great Eastern Sun – arises as confidence in your heart that you can dispel your own darkness. Not protecting yourself from uncertainty. TR: what it is like to live outside the cocoon.

Pema then analyzed the following poem by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (I will just post the poem):

The Education of the Warrior

That mind of fearfulness
Should be put in the cradle of loving-kindness
And suckled with the profound and brilliant milk
Of eternal doubtlessness.
In the cool shade of fearlessness,
Fan it with the fan of joy and happiness.
When it grows older,
Lead it to the self-existing playground of
various displays of phenomena.
When it grows older still,
In order to promote the primodial confidence,
Lead it to the archery range of the warriors.
When it grows older still,
To awaken primordial self-nature,
Let it see human society
Which possesses beauty and dignity.
Then the fearful mind
Can change into the warrior’s mind,
And that eternally youthful confidence
Can expand into space without beginning or end.
At that point it sees the Great Eastern Sun.

Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Sat. Notes

Pema’s morning talk had to do with Chapters 10 and 11 of “Smile at Fear”

Chapter 10: Tools of Fearlessness – all about expanding the heart

What would it look like to live completely from an open heart?

First, discipline (icon is the sun): of openness (notice that you’re closing, trying to get ground) and then open, notice tightening, lighten up. Notice wrong and then let go – like the sun because there are no exceptions.

Second, meditation (icon is the echo) – meditative awareness – you begin to notice when you’re closing, shutting down, etc. “I’m no quite sure how, but I can to it.” All actions produce an echo. They come back to you. Heed the echo to expand rather than close.

Third, psychological accuracy (skillful means, prajna) basic goodness. Clear seeing beyond “what bout me?” Icon is bow and arrow. Must have curiosity, inquisitiveness, undivided attention of something unpleasant. Act and speak out of it – it manifests as sanity. Breaks down polarization and dualistic concepts. It is expansive. Have to put prajna (arrow) into action (bow)

Chapter 11: qualities of fearlessness

TR: Pain is not a punishment, pleasure is not a reward… kindness, kindness, kindness

First, Trust (icon is the reservoir) you can trust that whatever you say, or do, you will get a response from the world. The world will always give you messages to practice openness. The world will never run out of messages and so is rich for this. The reservoir of trust in the world never dries up.

Second, Joy and Appreciation (icon is music/hum) – comes from realizing that whatever is happening is a dynamic process, a fruition and seed of what is to come. Eternal doubtlessness. “No feeling is final” – Rilke – a fluid way of opening up to the world.

Third, Ability to hold your seat (icon is saddle) – living with ourselves is like riding a fickle horse. Staying present in present time. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t escalate. TR: Success and failure are the path Continue reading “Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Sat. Notes”

Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Fri. Notes

I will be at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA all weekend sitting with the venerable Pema Chodron. The topic of the urban retreat is “Smile at Fear” which is a book written by Pema’s root teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (henceforth called TR in these blog posts). I will take notes during the talks, and will post them here in their raw form. They are basically jottings of what Pema, and teacher/editor Carolyn Rose Gimian, have said. Pema mentions TR often, so when you see those letters, it is a jotting based upon something he said.

Pema spoke on Friday night, and I found her to be witty, comedic, and extremely to the point. After getting a laugh, she’d get to the heart of the matter and gently tell us what we have know our whole lives.


We need to reach out, be global. Spiritual practice can be selfish. But a spiritual warrior can work on themselves, cultivate their capacity to love ourselves and others, and be of help for the world and other people. We are needed at this time on this earth because of all the mass suffering.

Pema can almost smell the fear in the USA. TR calls it “ubiquitous anxiety.” The ground we walk on is always shaky, but fear makes the shakiness more obvious. Fear is like a dot or doorway that can be good or bad. Avoid the feeling of fear and actions will escalate into violence. Turn toward fear rather than harden against it. Feel its vulnerability and tenderness.

How do we smile, touch into fear, and be present with it?

Time Magazine had an article about fear, stating that science proves that people are more afraid of uncertainty than physical pain! Pema observed uncertainty in herself and others and saw two ways that uncertainty affects us. First, we speed up. Second, we get lazy. These are both ways we express our powerlessness and our avoidance of fear.

TR: “fundamental uncertainty manifests as doubting/not trusting/ not loving ourselves.” Continue reading “Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” : Fri. Notes”

In the Strike Zone

In the Strike Zone

Standing in the outfield of the Field of Dreams, Iowa (2006)
Standing in the outfield of the Field of Dreams, Iowa (2006)

I was having strange premonitions at ATT Park three Tuesdays ago. Just a week prior, the SF Giants were having a hot September. Whenever their bats woke up, supporting their great pitching, they would just barely win. Feeling the post-season interest that I have always had for Major League baseball (going back to my days living in Atlanta during their amazing early 1990s post-season hot streak), I went online to take a look at the Giants schedule. Just two more teams to play, the Diamondbacks and the Padres. The Giants and the Padres were both about tied in their division, but I couldn’t make those games. Looking at my schedule, I saw that the September 28th game with the Diamondbacks worked, and so pulled up a great cheap ticket in the left-field bleachers. Even then, I had a feeling that I was going to see a great game.

With the idea of where my bleacher seat was, I told a friend that I would bring him a home run ball back. He laughed and said “I hope you don’t catch it on your head.” I had a hunch I might actually catch a ball. Getting ready to bike down the hill to the ballpark, my friend Eleni biked by. “You’re going to a baseball game?” she asked. I must admit that few people know that I like to go to a game at least once a season, and always follow post-season Giants games. “Are you going to drink a beer and eat a hot dog?” she asked. Again, Eleni had no idea that I would indeed consume both. Not a great fan of hot dogs, if I go to a MLB game, I’ll eat one. “It’s part of the game for me,” I told her and she looked at me slack jawed. She just couldn’t understand how excited it is to see some end-of-season play, especially when the Giants are doing well.
Continue reading “In the Strike Zone”

Feeling the Game

Look for a longer essay on the 19th Cent. past time that is baseball soon. For now, a brief anecdote:

Before leaving for the Giants game last night, I told my room mate’s boyfriend that I was going to bring back a home-run ball for him. “Hope you don’t catch it with your head,” Erik replied. With the Giants in the running for post-game play, I was surprised to see that the last home stretch of games wasn’t sold out. So I bought a cheap bleacher seat in left field for the opener with Arizona. I must’ve been feeling the game, b/c I actually pointed to a few places in the field where Giants batters dropped balls (one just behind 2nd base, another was a great drive to center field). In the 4th inning, Juan Uribe knocked the first pitch out for a home run… three rows in front of me! What an amazing site to see a tiny, white ball way up in the air heading straight for me. After the game, I went to and found the video of Uribe’s HR. Here’s a screen grab of the moment the ball landed. The red arrow marks the ball and the red circle is yours truly (glad I wore a green tee) screaming and waving and watching the guys fight for the ball. more later….

Sept. 28: Uribe's 4th inning HR lands right in front of me! Giants go 2 games up for Div. lead.
Sept. 28: Uribe's 4th inning HR lands right in front of me! Giants go 2 games up for Div. lead.

Free Culture Lives!

Sunday at the West Fest, a free concert in Golden Gate Park, I threw a new line in my carny spiel: “Just like the SF Diggers gave it all away in the Summer of Love, our games are free. There ain’t no line, and it don’t cost a dime!” The SF Diggers have inspired me many times over with their mad, creative urge to make the word “free” the real deal. They gave food away to the wayward runaways that flocked to Upper Haight, inspiring the Food Not Bombs campaigns. They hustled landlords to get living space and then crammed in as many homeless teens as possible to get them off the streets, and the Huckleberry Youth Programs is a reminder of their work. The SF Diggers threw free concerts in the Panhandle, the West Fest was a quasi-unsponsored (they did have logos all over things) example of that legacy. Finally, the SF Diggers created free stores, where money wasn’t considered. The Really Really Free Markets and Clothing Swaps stand as 21st Century Examples of this idea.

The SF Diggers, for good or bad, were tied to the San Francisco Mime Troupe. On top of all that free culture listed above, there were also many puppet performances, spontaneous art happenings, and wild, tripped out parties. The Mime Troupe gave their shows away for free in parks across the City, and they had to fight for that right, inspiring the SF Diggers (and bringing on the hilarious arrest of some of their giant puppets). On the East Coast, Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater also began to throw free performances in New York, Vermont, and beyond. And Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino also began free, radical performance from a Mexi-Cali Latino perspective.

Continue reading “Free Culture Lives!”

A Rumpeled West Fest

How often does one have the chance to give a fool a ride back to his house sit in Lower Haight? Before my eyes, in the dark of a sliver moon night in late October, stood Rumpel the Aussie fool. I couldn’t stop staring at his vest, all full of ridiculous shiny things that idiots like me can’t help but look at. I tried to avoid the man’s pointy shoes and the mouse nose that forced Greg Mooney to ask “is that nose your real nose?” Rumpel dodged the answer, saying he has 300 noses, and I believe him.

Poor Rumpel, not from San Francisco and way too stoned to find a direction home (sorry for the Dylan/Hendrix reference, but Jimi Hendrix was the patron saint of West Fest today. His signature even blazoned the label of an energy drink, most likely licensed by the guitar great’s brother. That same sibling was on stage when a rag tag group of guitarists “played” Purple Haze in an attempt to break a world record. I don’t think they pulled it off). Mr. Rumpel was cold, in the dark of Golden Gate Park, and looking for the after party “where some of the bands were going to hang out.” He heard an address and was too high to remember it. Or too foolish to write it down.

But he found me and Greg in the middle of a field chatting. I played with a broken branch and Greg toyed his lit-up unicycle. Rumple showed up and fell in “with the folks you need to meet tonight” (Greg’s words), getting a ride home from Jonathan and the Wonder Truck. We dropped the fool off at the corner of Fillmore and Oak, still unsure about what he was going to stumble into next.
Continue reading “A Rumpeled West Fest”

Precita Eyes Benefit: 19 Sep

SOMArts (South of Market Cultural Center)
934 Brannan Street (near 8th Street)
San Francisco, CA. 94103
6:30-9:30 pm
Admission:  general $35, VIP $50

For more information please visit our website

I’ll have my autograph pen there this Saturday, along with a pile of artists, authors, and photographers in the Mission Muralismo book. Not cheap, but the money goes to a great cause: MURALS!