bay area now and then and here and there

Bay Area Now 5 opens tonight ay YBCA! P and I went to the artists’ preview reception last night, but this evening is the full-on dog and pony show. The show looks great: radically different than BAN 4. Much quieter, not as chaotic. Some really sensational work, as always. A number of projects do an especially lovely, clever job of unearthing hidden or peripheral Bay Area histories.

In light of my grousing entry a few weeks back regarding the somewhat problematic treatment of the Mabuhay Gardens in the Bruce Conner/BAMPFA show, I wanted to highlight an audio project that’s part of Estacion Odesia, in both BAN 5 as well as a parallel exhibition opening next week at Queens Nails Annex.
Artist/educator Jerome Reyes and professor Dan Gonzalez created an audio piece about Mabuhay Gardens and its owner, Ness Aquino, with generous interviews from folks from the punk and Filipino communities. Make sure to check it out. It’s on the iPod listening station.

(photo credit: James Stark)

The Pinoy Patron of Punk: Looking for Ness Aquino and his Gold Plating Machine
By Jerome Reyes and Daniel Phil Gonzales (in collaboration with the Aquino family)
radio drama/podcast album: eleven tracks, total 50 min, 2008

a project for
Estacion Odesia, Guest curated by Queens Nails Annex

The Mabuhay Gardens or “Fab Mab,” a San Francisco North Beach nightclub and restaurant widely known for its importance to Punk Rock, has Reyes and Gonzales attempt to interview its aging and adventurous Filipino owner, Ness Aquino. What starts as a simple search ends up revisiting the socio-political events and urban redevelopment politics of late 1960′s San Francisco that led up to his second restaurant, the Mabuhay Gardens. Through several heartfelt and uncensored interviews, people discuss his under-celebrated and overlooked first establishment in the 1960′s, similarly named the Mabuhay, and notably its invaluable location inside of the San Francisco International Hotel building on Kearny Street. They describe the Mabuhay’s backroom that became a community planning center, Ness himself as the United Filipino Association President, and the mass effort to save the I-Hotel’s elderly tenants from eviction.

(photo by Tony Remington)

Interviewees also share their favorite memories of Ness in transition to the Mabuhay Gardens on Broadway St. and when it first became the Fab Mab, noting everything from cooking bands spaghetti dinners, the action-filled bathrooms, singers dressed in infant drag, and the club’s eventual close. Both artists assemble this album of found sound, recorded protests, studio tracks, dish recipes, plus playful testimonies from: former strikers now scholars, Punk Rock historians and musicians, family members, and one unexpected guest, to celebrate a well-loved figure immersed in Asian-American, Punk Rock, and ultimately, San Francisco history.

Special thanks, (and not limited to):

Julie Aquino, Dina Competente, Penelope Houston of the Avengers, Kathy Peck of and the Contractions, V. Vale of Re/Search Publications and Search and Destroy, Emil de Guzman of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, Steve Seid from Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Ginger Coyote at, Richard Likong, Jackie Sharp of Target Video, Curtis Choy, Al Robles and Ness Aquino

BAY AREA NOW 5: Estacion Odesia/The Pinoy Patron of Punk
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission St @ 3rd
San Francisco, CA 94103-3138
415.978.ARTS (2787)

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