Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SFPL Film Festival

It Came From Beneath the Sea
This summer, the City is the star of our own little SFPL Film Festival.  Over the next three weeks, Thursdays at noon, the following titles will screen at the Main Library’s Koret Auditorium while additional screenings will take place throughout the system as part of Summer Read SF 2014

Click Here to view the upcoming system-wide film calendar. 

7/17  It Came From Beneath the Sea (released in 1955)
This mid-century view of San Francisco stars a Giant Octopus, whose feeding habits have been affected by radiation from H-Bomb tests. It rises from the Mindanao Deep to terrorize San Francisco. Breathtaking stop motion special effects by Ray Harryhausen highlight this sci-fi thriller. Be prepared for the monster's attack on the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ferry Building and other landmarks.

The House on Telegraph Hill

7/24  The House on Telegraph Hill  (released in 1951)
Concentration camp survivor Victoria Kowelska finds herself involved in mystery, greed, and murder after she assumes the identity of a dead friend in order to gain passage to America. Upon reaching San Francisco, she discovers that she has a young son, a large fortune, and no living relatives who can identify her. The old Julius Castle restaurant on Telegraph Hill, was used for exterior shots of the house in the film. Parts of the facade were altered to hide the "Julius Castle" sign on the outside wall.

7/31  Dark Passage (released in 1947)
Humphrey Bogart, convicted of murdering his wife, escapes from prison in order to prove his innocence. Since his features are too well known, he is forced to seek some illicit backroom plastic surgery. The entire pre-knife part of the film is shot from a Bogart's-eye-view, with us seeing the fugitive for the first time as he starts to recuperate from the operation in the apartment of a sympathetic young artist, played by Lauren Bacall. The apartment used in the film still exists on Telegraph Hill.

A comprehensive list of the films screened this July as part of the series is here!

Finally, to read more on the role of San Francisco on film start with:  

Alcatraz : the ultimate movie book / Robert Lieber (Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, c2006.)

Celluloid San Francisco : the film lover's guide to Bay Area movie locations / Jim van Buskirk and Will Shank. (Chicago Review Press, c2006.)

Cinema by the Bay / by Sheerly Avni ; introduction by Michael Sragow. (George Lucas Books ; Welcome Books, c2006)  1

Fog City mavericks [videorecording] : the filmmakers of San Francisco (Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment, c2007.)

Footsteps in the fog : Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco / Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal ; foreword by Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell. (Santa Monica Press, c2002.)

The Golden Gate and the silver screen (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press ; Cornwall Books, c1984.)

Radical light : alternative film & video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-2000 (University of California Press : University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, c2010.)

Reel San Francisco stories : an annotated filmography of the Bay Area / Christopher Pollock. (C. Pollock, c2013) 

San Francisco noir : the city in film noir from 1940 to the present / Nathaniel Rich. (Little Bookroom, c2005.)

The San Francisco of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo : place, pilgrimage, and commemoration / edited by Douglas A. Cunningham (Scarecrow Press, 2012.)

World film locations. San Francisco. (Intellect Books ; Chicago Press 2013.) 

Friday, July 11, 2014

World Cup Reading

Just like the crescendo in Ravel’s Bolero imposes itself onto the listener’s ear, the rising popularity of soccer (football for the rest of the world) in the USA is an undeniable fact. American fans have finally joined a global phenomenon. It is one thing to support the American team for as long as it is in the running, but also equally important to have several alternative favorite teams. As soon as Brazil was crushed by Germany in one of the quarter finals, newly initiated American fans had to decide who to root for not only between Argentina and Netherlands, but also who to root for in the final since Brazil is not going to be there. Do we support Messi’s team or Klose’s? That is the question weighing on our minds. Such is the world of soccer.

It may come as a surprise to many to learn that the USA not only took part in the first World Cup held in 1930 in Uruguay, but the team also managed to reach the semi-final against Argentina, which it lost 6-1.  Team USA won Bronze and that remains her best to date. In 2002, USA managed to reach the quarter final when they lost to Germany 2-1.  In 2014, the USA also reached the knock-out stage.

Just like any other major international game, soccer has a rich history that includes rivalries between teams, players' personal achievements, global superstars such as Pele and Maradona, and statistical wonders. Brazil has won the most world cups (5) followed by Italy (4) and Germany (3). 2014 is the first World Cup where two teams from the continent of Africa have advanced to the knock-out stage.

San Francisco Public Library boasts of a good collection of circulating books on the subject as well as numerous reference resources.  Explore some of the titles below, or perform a broader search in the catalog under the terms World Cup (Soccer) and Soccer for additional materials.  Other useful headings for players include:  Soccer - Training, Soccer - Rules, and Soccer - Coaching.

General Reference

The official rules of soccer.

The World Cup : the complete history / Terry Crouch.

The complete encyclopedia of soccer / Keir Radnedge.

A history of the World Cup, 1930-2010 / Clemente Angelo Lisi.


High Interest Materials
2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil official book.

The ball is round : a global history of soccer / David Goldblatt

Inverting the pyramid : a history of football tactics / Jonathan Wilson

Outcasts united : a refugee soccer team, an American town / Warren St. John. 

Finding the game : three years, twenty-five countries, and the search for pickup soccer / Gwendolyn Oxenham. 

Soccer in sun and shadow / by Eduardo Galeano ; translated by Mark Fried.

Soccernomics : why England loses, why Germany and Brazil win, and why the US, Japan, Australia, Turkey-- and even Iraq-- are destined to become the kings of the world's most popular sport / Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. 

The big fix : the hunt for the match fixers bringing down soccer / Brett Forrest.

Soccer men : profiles of the rogues, geniuses, and neurotics who dominate the world's most popular sport / Simon Kuper

Soccer against the enemy : how the world's most popular sport starts and stops wars, fuels revolutions, and keeps dictators in power / Simon Kuper. 

The rough guide to cult football / edited by Andy Mitten ; with contributions by Joe Ganley ... [et al.] 
Collected Essays
The global game : writers on soccer / edited by John Turnbull, Thom Satterlee & Alon Raab. 

The thinking fan's guide to the World Cup / edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey. 

By Region
Africa united : soccer, passion, politics, and the first World Cup in Africa / Steve Bloomfield

African soccerscapes : how a continent changed the world's game / Peter Alegi

Tor! : the story of German football / Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger.

Morbo : the story of Spanish football / Phil Ball. 

Winning at all costs : a scandalous history of Italian soccer / John Foot

Pay as you play : the true price of success in the Premier League era / Paul Tomkins, Graeme Riley & Gary Fulcher ; introducing the transfer price index. 

Ajax, the Dutch, the war : the strange tale of soccer during Europe's darkest hour / Simon Kuper. 

Video Highlights
FIFA fever [videorecording] : celebrating 100 years of FIFA soccer 

World Cup Soccer highlights, 1966-1974 [videorecording] / director, Philippe Scanff. 

World Cup Soccer highlights, 1978-1986 [videorecording] / director, Philippe Scanff.

World Cup Soccer highlights, 1990-1998 [videorecording] / director, Philippe Scanff
World Cup Soccer highlights, 2002 [videorecording] / director, Philippe Scanff. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Merola Goes to the Movies: A Streetcar Named Desire

Departing from this series’ usual presentation of filmed operas, tomorrow Merola Goes to the Movies presents a special screening of the classic 1951 film of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. The screening is in conjunction with Merola’s July presentation of André Previn’s opera based on this work.  Tomorrow's attendees are invited to enter a drawing for free tickets to see the opera July 10th and 12th at the Everett Auditorium (450 Church Street) in San Francisco. For more information, visit

A brief pre-screening talk by a Merola representative will give you interesting information about the making of the film and the opera.  The speaker will most likely touch upon Previn’s very successful first career as a Hollywood film score composer, working on Gigi (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959) and My Fair Lady (1964).  Additionally, this opera was commissioned by the San Francisco Opera Association and premiered in 1998, so one can also expect to hear details of its inception and debut.

Please join us.  Doors open and seating begins at 12:30.
About the film:  After losing her home and her job, delusional southern belle Blanche DuBois arrives in New Orleans, taking a streetcar named “Desire” to live with her sister Stella and Stella’s brutish husband Stanley. Sexual tension quickly develops between Blanche and her brother-in-law—until slowly her dark secrets and lies come to light.  Winner of four Academy Awards, don’t miss this cinema classic where the lines between fantasy and reality blur, with tragic consequences.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The 77th Annual Stern Grove Festival

With one of San Francisco’s best free summer concert series currently underway, the AMR Department wants to remind you of your free access to Hoopla, with use of your library card, PIN and a registered Hoopla account.  Research the show before you go (or catch up on music you missed) by listening to the following artists (listed in bold) with albums found in Hoopla. 

Get out and enjoy some music! All concerts take place Sunday at 2 p.m. at Sigmund Stern Grove, 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard.

Smokey Robinson 
Patti Austin

Allen Stone
San Francisco Symphony at Stern Grove, courtesy of
San Francisco Symphony

Funky Meters
Sugar Pie Desanto

Pupy y Los Que Son Son
Vieux Farka Toure

Rufus Wainwright
Quartet San Francisco

Andrew Bird and The Hands of Glory
Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors

Darlene Love

Sergio Mendes

The Zombies

Related Blog Entry:

Stern Grove Festival: Celebrating 75 Years In Concert With Nature
  [Monday, July 16, 2012]

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bobby Womack's I Left My Heart in San Francisco

With Friday’s passing of legendary R&B recording artist Bobby Womack, the press is ablaze with obituaries and accounts of his contributions to popular music. They are many, but San Francisco residents may be most interested to learn of his unique, funked up interpretation of I Left My Heart in San Francisco, a detail The San Francisco Chronicle obituary failed to mention. Released about six years after Tony Bennett’s, Womack’s version charted on the Billboard R&B in 1969, the same year the song was selected as our City Song.*

The library has copies of Womack’s moderately-hard-to-find autobiography entitled: Midnight Mover: My Autobiography: The True Story of the Greatest Soul Singer in the World (due for reprint in November 2014). Hoping to learn why Womack chose to record I Left My Heart in San Francisco, I picked up his book and was met with so many great stories. It is a fun and fascinating recounting of his musical education and collaborations with the greatest musicians of the Rhythm and Blues, Doo-Wop, Funk, and Rock genres. Some of my favorite details from the book include:

Womack learned his exceptional, left-handed and upside-down, guitar playing style in the family gospel group the Womack Brothers, lead by their father Friendly Womack. His father’s guitar (obtained in exchange for four haircuts) was strictly off limits to his sons, but they would sneak the instrument and play to the radio when their father was at work. Young Bobby’s skill was discovered one day when he replaced a broken string with a shoelace and presented it to his dad hoping he wouldn’t notice. Instead of being angry he was thrilled by his son's talent.

Sam Cooke was Bobby Womack’s greatest mentor and it was he who arranged for the five Womack Brothers to tour with the James Brown revue. This experience, which Womack describes as a musical boot-camp, plus his long term-relationship with Cooke instilled a professionalism that Womack prided himself upon throughout his life.

As a session musician with Memphis’ American Sound Studios, Womack collaborated on such iconic albums as Aretha Franklin’s Lady Soul, Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis and Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds. As a songwriter, Womack influenced Wicked Wilson Pickett’s career by collaborating on over seventeen songs including I’m a Midnight Mover, She’s Good to Me and I’m Sorry About That. Womack also co-wrote and recorded It's All Over Now, the song that only a month later the Rolling Stones covered, earning them their first UK No 1 hit.

Stories include the inspiration behind Janis Joplin’s song Mercedes Benz just before her death. (After a recording session too drunk to drive, Joplin left her Jaguar behind and got a lift in Womack’s Mercedes. As they drove, the stream of lyrics came to Janis and she insisted on a ride back to the studio where, with most of the band now gone, she recorded the song.  The next day she was dead.) There are also tales of touring with another left-handed guitarist--Jimi Hendrix, to recording in Ike Turner’s lock-down, drug-fueled studio, to the friendship and shenanigans with local artist Sly Stone.

Bobby Womack and Sly Stone, as reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle
(Photo By Ebet Roberts/Getty Images)

Womack’s legacy as a songwriter is arguably greater than that as a guitarist and singer, so what lead to his cover of I Left My Heart in San Francisco? Well, after working with Wilson Pickett he was simply out of songs and with a Liberty Records album deadline imminent it seemed to be a good solution. At the same time he covered Tony Bennett’s Fly Me to the Moon and the Mamas and the Papas’ California Dreamin’ which were even bigger recording successes. Throughout his life, as often as Womack ‘gave’ hits to other artists, he also interpreted others’ works for his own recordings.

* Please note that I Left My Heart in San Francisco was selected as our City Song in 1969 but fifteen years later, through a leaflet campaign and voting the song San Francisco from the 1936 film of the same name was chosen as the more popular song. Instead of stripping the first of its honor, in 1984, the Board of Supervisors declared a compromise naming two city songs: I Left My Heart in San Francisco is our official City Ballad and San Francisco is our official City Song.

To learn more about Bobby Womack, please enjoy:

Midnight mover : my autobiography : the true story of the greatest soul singer in the world / Bobby Womack with Robert Ashton. 

The bravest man in the universe [sound recording] / Bobby Womack. 2012

Everything's gonna be alright [sound recording] the American singles singles 1967-76 / Bobby Womack. 2013

The best of Bobby Womack [sound recording] 2003 

High contrast [electronic resource] / Gábor Szabó/Bobby Womack. 2003 (originally released in 1971)

Work with Gorillaz:

Plastic Beach [sound recording] / Gorillaz. 2010

The fall [sound recording] / Gorillaz. 2011 

The library’s online database Hoopla also has the following sound recordings:  The Poet, The Poet II and Someday We’ll be Free.  You will need your library card and PIN, as well as to create a Hoopla account to use this resource.  The process is easy.

The library also subscribes to Rock's Backpages which has over forty articles, interviews and album reviews on Bobby Womack.  Your library card number and PIN are needed to access.