This week’s new articles from the alternative weeklies…

  • Oakland’s Grow House Hazards (East Bay Express)

    There’s an old saying among stoners: “Nobody has ever died from an overdose of smoking pot.” But the way things are going in Oakland, it’s just a matter of time before someone dies from growing it. And there’ll be hell to pay if it’s a firefighter.

    That reality became harshly apparent last week in West Oakland at a hulking warehouse on Chestnut Street, near I-580. The air was filled with the stench of burnt chemicals, fiberglass, and wood, and there was the unmistakable smell of three hundred to five hundred pot plants that had gone up in smoke that morning. It took eighteen firefighters to get the March 2 conflagration under control. Full article

  • Radio radio! (SF Bay Guardian)

    …Throughout, KUSF’s old frequency, 90.3, comes through loud and clear — though now with the sound of KDFC’s light-classical and its penchant for swelling, feel-good woodwinds. The music is so innocuous that to rag on it feels as petty and mean as kicking a docile pup. But I get my share of instrumental wallpaper while fuming on corporate phone trees. It’s infuriating to realize that it supplanted KUSF, the last bastion of free-form radio in SF proper. Where is the free-form rock radio? This is the city that successfully birthed the format in the 1970s, with the freewheeling, bohemia-bred KSAN, and continued the upstart tradition with pirate stations such as SF Liberation Radio. Doesn’t San Francisco deserve its own WFMU or KCRW? Full article

  • Quakes Rising (Metro Silicon Valley)

    THE SAN JOSE Earthquakes win this year’s award for Best Demolition Job. In what should be viewed as a significant step forward, the team staged a wrecking party last week, as it began to officially demolish the old FMC structures across Coleman Avenue from the airport, where the team plans to build a privately financed stadium.

    Quite a few San Jose politicos made appearances, as did a few hundred season ticket holders and hard-core supporters. For the fans, this was perhaps the most important event since the team returned as a new franchise four years ago. Despite a few cosmetic improvements to Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University—the team’s temporary facility—the ownership group hadn’t really provided any concrete, on-the-ground proof that a new stadium is more than just an idea in the drawing rooms. Now it has. Full article

  • Terry Helbling’s Tenderloin Flat Full of $200K in Stolen Art (SF Weekly)

    Queried about his client, Terry Helbling, attorney Kenneth Quigley rhapsodizes an artful response: “Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them, and psychiatrists earn the rent. Terry lived in a castle in the sky for a long time.” Today, he will crash to earth.

    It goes down on a hazy late January afternoon, when Helbling waddles into a San Francisco courtroom. While he may be the city’s most notorious art thief, the Tenderloin resident will never be mistaken for Thomas Crown. Helbling, 53, is short and balding with a dusting of a white beard. His posture is stooped, and he shambles in his oversize orange jumpsuit. Also, he has an affinity for cramming things into his ears; Quigley, his court-appointed counsel, curtly yanks out the wads of balled-up tissue like an impatient mother and drops them into Helbling’s shackled hands. Full article

Wednesday Weeklies: Oakland Grow House Hazards; SF Freeform Radio Situation; SJ Quakes 9 March,2011Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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