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One Man Band

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Prairie Prince stuffs his duffel bag into the overhead compartment and finds his seat. He opens the shade of the window and places headphones in his ears. His arms and wrists begin to flail as he mimics the drumming of Ringo Starr. The plane soars above the gray San Francisco sky and into the clouds. In about an hour, he will arrive in Virginia City, Nev., where he will lead a drum workshop and benefit concert. Proceeds benefit low-income, disadvantaged, minority teens and adults break drug addictions, particularly through the healing power of music.

When Prairie Prince is not jet setting around the world playing music, he spends his time in his Sunset home soaking up inspiration all around him. Whether he’s gazing out at the ocean on top of the hill next to the Legion of Honor or on top of Coit Tower looking out at the city’s skyline, San Francisco is Prince’s muse. “I get inspired not only daily, but hourly,” said Prince.  “I travel around the world knowing that I have this beautiful place to come back to.”

Prince has played with members of the Grateful Dead, George Harrison, Tom Waits, Michael Jackson, The New Cars, Jefferson Starship and his own band The Tubes, just to name a few. He even started Journey. Listening to Prince’s stories is like reading “Rolling Stone”.

Born in North Carolina and raised in Phoenix, Ariz., Prince grew up in a family that encouraged music and artistic expression. “I’ve been a musician my whole life,” he explained. After Prince’s acceptance to the San Francisco Art Institute on a scholarship, he and his band The Tubes moved from Phoenix to San Francisco. His family shortly followed.

The Tubes’ first show was at the San Francisco Art Institute and since then Prince found himself fully immersed into the San Francisco music scene. “It was amazing to be a part of it. I came up in ’69…so things were starting to turn from hippie, good vibes to more hardcore and funk music,” said Prince.<br>

Though he started Journey and helped write their first album, his heart was with The Tubes. “The Tubes were very influenced by funk and Frank Zappa. Then the funk went into glam rock like Bowie and Rolling Stones. We kind of jumped on that wagon. We wrote songs about punks on dope, things that you wanted in life, bondage in San Francisco and London, pimps, kinky stuff, controversial stuff,” said Prince. “We tried to expose our lifestyle to the masses in an artistic way.”

The Tubes were signed to A&M Records, who had stars like Peter Frampton, The Police and Supertramp. “We were sort of their little pet artist band that didn’t make money, but gave them notoriety because we were so weird and odd,” said Prince. The band ended up leaving A&M Records, owing them millions of dollars. Nevertheless, Prince did note that Jerry Moss, A&M Records president, told him The Tubes were his prized possession and he wouldn’t take any of it back, after he ran into him years later. The Tubes then signed on to Capital Records, producing two hits, “Talk to You Later” and “She’s a Beauty,” and even played stadium concerts.

Prince is not only a musical genius, but also an artist on several levels. He has designed cover art, t-shirts and set designs for several bands. He painted a mural on the Cliff House and dozens of other murals throughout San Francisco and California. From oil on canvas to hand-painted drum sets and motorcycles, Prince does it all. Talk about a one man band.

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Reflections

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I’ll admit it. I rolled my eyes when I saw the Richmond District circled on my paper. I wanted to cover the Haight, Mission, Fillmore or Castro, someplace with some action. But I soon fell in love with the Richmond District. Sure it takes me an hour to trek there on the 28 from my Ingleside home, but it’s worth it.

The Richmond District may be under the radar, but that’s why it is so fantastic. Truly a nature-lovers dream location, the Richmond is surrounded by Golden Gate Park, The Presidio and the Pacific Ocean. I soon discovered why every Richmond District resident and employee I talked to had no complaints. They felt safe and had a great sense of community. I too felt right at home.

One day I passed by this abandoned pair of work shoes next to a dandelion and I couldn’t help but smile and snap a photo. It’s little discoveries like this that make the Richmond District such a wonderful neighborhood. You can’t help but be pleasantly surprised when walking into any random shop or talking to any passing pedestrian.

Eye candy

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Some photographs of my favorite place in the city–Golden Gate Park.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better

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As if you need an excuse to bask in the sunshine at the third most popular park in the U.S.–Golden Gate Park. This year Outside Lands Festival has really outdone itself. Headliners like Muse, Phish and Arcade Fire are sure to please indie fans from all over. But wait–there’s more! The Shins were just added to the already amazing list. For the first time since 2009 The Shins are back in action! Now you no longer need to put that Garden State soundtrack on repeat, you can hear them in real life.

Some of my personal favorites: Beirut, The Decemberists, The Black Keys and Erykah Badu will also play at Outside Land Festival this year.

San Francisco’s own local music scene also made its way to the star-studded lineup. Don’t miss out on Ty Segall and The Fresh and Onlys. Even if you’ve already seen them a dozen times, they never disappoint.

Buy your tickets now!

Is Golden Gate Park safe at night?

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On a warm spring afternoon, Jude Stevenson takes a break from her weekend-long conference to bask in the rays of sunshine on Hippie Hill.

This is the 32-year-old Scotland native’s first time in California. Like many other tourists, Stevenson stopped at Golden Gate Park because her guidebook labeled it a “must-see.”

Stevenson said that Golden Gate Park was much different from Scottish parks. “There are not so many beggars in Scotland because the police do not allow sleeping in the parks, here cops just drive right through,” she said. “But I don’t think cops should regulate it. I don’t feel threatened in any way. There are more important things to worry about.”

Drawing in 13 million visitors a year, the 1,017-acre park is the third most visited park in the United States – only outnumbered by New York City’s Central Park and Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

Though the park is popular among tourists and residents alike, recent incidents of late-night vandalism and violence have raised the debate about whether Golden Gate Park should be closed at night.

This month seven trees have been cut down and two benches have been cut in half, according to Richmond District Police Captain Richard Corriea.

According to Corriea in the last week, there have been three assaults on people who “live off the grid and who are not connected by friends and phones.” “We can’t protect them or hear their screams,” said Corriea.

“You can walk and drink in the park at night, you just can’t sleep there,” Corriea said.

Corriea said the police go around giving citations for sleeping in the park every morning. According to Corriea, last year they gave 1,145 citations for sleeping in the park, even though violators are unable to pay them.

Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department said, “I think Golden Gate Park is very safe, but I also believe nothing good happens in Golden Gate Park at night.”

Ginsburg stated that the Recreation and Park Department only has enough money to afford two patrol officers – one for Golden Gate Park and one for all the other neighborhood parks.

“I believe the park should be closed at night,” Ginsburg said. “By having operating hours, it allows officers to kick people out of the park rather than trying to catch them in the act.”

Corriea agrees. “Not much good ever happens in Golden Gate Park at night,” he said. “There are folks that don’t want it to be closed, but when asked if they go there at night they say no.”

Those who spend the most time in Golden Gate Park, travelers and homeless, have mixed feelings about the possibility of closing the park at night. Some choose to sleep in the park, while others avoid the park at night.

Daniel Gomez, 27, a traveler from Texas who “lives where he stands” says he feels safe when he sleeps in the park alone.

But not everyone feels safe sleeping at the park. “I don’t usually sleep in the park. When I was younger I did, but I never felt safe,” said Ian Richmond, 26, who has been coming and going through the Bay Area since ’97. “I was afraid of both sides, of what the cops would do and what other people would do.”

Some people are skeptical about the motives for closing Golden Gate Park at night. “Cops are a little excessive with violence,” said self-proclaimed “street kid” Lars K., 18. “They don’t see you as an equal.”

“This place would not be what it is without all the travelers,” said Lucky Betz, 21. “It’s a war against the homeless.”

“They should allow [people to sleep in the park]. There should be lighting so people don’t have to be tucked away like raccoons,” said Betz. “It’s unfortunate that they can’t be out in the open and safe.”

San Francisco residents also have varying opinions about closing the park at night and their own safety.

Josef Brunner, 84, said he thinks the park should be closed at night. Though he feels safe in the park as a male, he said he is concerned about all the females he sees running alone at night. “The police know where the homeless sleep and they don’t do anything about it,” said Brunner.

Let the debate begin

photo credit: Leader Nancy Pelosi

University of San Francisco‘s main campus will host a Mayoral Forum on Thursday, May 5 at 6 p.m in the McLaren Conference Center. The debate is free and the public is encouraged to attend. The debate will be based on the 2008 Presidential Candidate Forum and moderated by USF Politics Professor Corey Cook. According to the event on yelp, “Candidates will be asked how to restore trust in governmental institutions and social trust in our communities, revitalize local democracy, and ensure that San Francisco becomes a ‘City of Service.'” Come participate in democracy and become informed voters.

The budget that just won’t budge

San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee came to the Richmond District today to discuss the city’s budget with residents. This was the eighth of nine budget meetings Lee held throughout the city.

The meeting was held at the Richmond District Recreation Center on 251 18th Avenue, from 6pm until 7:30pm.

“I never want to have a government where the mayor doesn’t talk to the supervisors and vice versa,” said Lee. “Everyone’s opinion is important.”

At the budget meeting, Richmond District residents expressed their concerns about the city’s $306 million deficit.

“One reason for the $306 million deficit is the increase of costs in pensions and health care costs for city employees,” said Lee.

Residents raised their concerns about tax cuts for big businesses, like Twitter, and further cuts to community based organizations.

Lee defended the tax cuts. “Companies will leave the city if we punish them for growing,” he said. “I’m trying to keep jobs in the city…that’s why we gave that mid-market payroll tax break for a while. We’re trying to be smart about it.”

Other residents were concerned about empty storefronts and the lack of rangers in Golden Gate Park.

General manager for the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, Phil Ginsburg explained that the department only has enough to afford two park rangers–one to patrol Golden Gate Park and another to patrol all other neighborhood parks. But Ginsburg assured residents that he is concerned about their safety. “I think Golden Gate Park is very, very safe,” said Ginsburg. “We welcome 15 million visitors a year, but I also believe nothing good  happens in Golden Gate Park at night.”

District One Supervisor Eric Mar ended the meeting by telling residents to “keep speaking out for the Richmond District to make it a beautiful place to live.”