Sunday, May 22, 2005


Everything is politics but politics is not everything. Those of us who are fortunate to live on the left coast, particularly in the greater San Francisco area, enjoy the opportunity to engage in a rich cultural life as well as enlightened politics.

In its sixth season, San Francisco Jazz has featured such icons and luminaries as Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Michael Brecker, McCoy Tyner, Dianne Reeves and Etta James. The torch has been carried forward by Portuguese Fado singer, Mariza, whose performance is as much a seduction as an entertainment, by Brazilian Maria Rita, who summons the memory of Etta Fitzgerald, and this Saturday last at the Palace of Fine Arts by Madeleine Peyroux, a Brooklyn kid by way of Paris who channels the voice and spirit of the immortal Lady Day and, in sacred moments, captures her very soul.

The San Francisco Jazz Collective has featured the masterful renditions of Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis and Bobby Hutcherson among others, with this year's work dedicated to the incomparable John Coltrane, whose son Ravi played a magnificent set as warmup to the Marsalis Quartet.

Theatres are offering challenging materials (see The Intersection for the Arts) and theatres beyond the bay have rediscovered Beckett, Stoppard and Miller. Even cinema has suddenly come alive for the audience that wants more than candy (Kingdom of Heaven, The Interpreter, Crash).

For baseball fans, Pac Bell (I refuse to rename it) remains the greatest ball park in America east of Fenway. This weekend the Giants unveiled a statue of the Dominican-born legend, Juan Maricial, and for the first time in Major League history, sported uniforms with a Spanish team logo: Viva Gigantes!

Politics aside, life is good on the left coast.


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