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Cover | Valentin Popov

Detail from Looking into . . . (2009, oil on canvas, 48 x 74 inches). Ukrainian-born Valentin Popov, an Oakland resident whose work is featured in museum collections around the world, mixes the academic and the anarchistic in poetic paintings that appear soothing—from a distance. His goal is to simultaneously massage and aggravate; to reassure and cause despair. “In the Water,” Popov’s latest body of work, explores these ideas in relation to the primal medium. Being enveloped by water “has the power to cause you to forget pain, frustrations, worries,” says Popov, “and makes you look deeper into yourself, to meditate, to reflect.” An exhibition of the artist’s current work runs Jan. 14 to Feb. 20 at Modernism gallery in San Francisco, (415) 541-0461 or, with an opening reception Thursday, Jan. 14, 5:30-8 p.m., 685 Market St., Ste. 290. For more works by Popov, see



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January 2010 Issue:
Table of Contents

|  Moments of Truth
Twice a year, roughly coinciding with the summer and winter solstices, The Monthly offers local writers a chance to submit their personal essays—and readers a chance to savor the cream of the crop. In this, our Winter 2010 essay issue, we are pleased to publish seven compelling essays on the subject of one significant moment. Inspired by tumors, ghosts, sexual straying, pastries (yes, pastries) and more, these literary snapshots capture instants that forever shifted lives. By Stacy Appel, Flossie Lewis, Toni Martin, Kat Meltzer, Mike Rosen-Molina, Wichita Sims, and Demetra Tsigaris.

Up Front | Furry Fugitives
Across the state of California—one of only two where owning ferrets is against the law—fans of these affectionate, playful creatures must keep their fondness furtive. The result, believe it or not, is a widespread ferret underground where owners band together in secret clubs. By Mike Rosen-Molina.  

Shopping Around |  A Touch of Healing
Bodywork, once the province of sports pros, movie stars, and flower children, has gone mainstream. These days, every other storefront seems to advertise one brand or another of hands-on therapy to relax, repair, or realign an aching body (and maybe the psyche as well). From Rolfing to Rosen, from osteopathy to ortho-bionomy—with a full roster of stops in between—East Bay denizens can, apparently, have it all. By Anna Mindess. 

Shop Talk | Neighborhood Shops & Such
Community conscious and green as all get-out, Ackerman’s Servicing Volvos in Berkeley isn’t your average auto repair shop. Mike’s Bikes, the well-known Northern California chain, goes global with the culture-bridging Africa Bike Drive. Recycled equals resplendent at re4m, the trendy Montclair boutique. Also in Montlcair, the magpie, a hip shopping haven, offers everything from skateboards to Michael Stars. By Alyssa Wodtke
Next month, get the Shop Talk scoop on four more intriguing East Bay entrepreneurs.

The Kilduff File |  Vince Stone
Most self-help books—and heck, even the U.S. Army—urge us to be all that we can be. But Tennessee author Vince Stone, also known as Mr. Mediocrity, says there’s nothing wrong with plain old average. Deploring the drive to excel in every arena of life—from our punishing exercise regimens to the perfectionist pressure we put on our kids—Stone waxes philosophic on the virtues of being ordinary.  By Paul Kilduff

Available in print and in the
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Editor’s Note:
a look at this month’s issue and commentary on life in the East Bay

Letters: reader responses to The Monthly’s stories
Be East Bay: an introduction to interesting people, places and events in your community

Critics Choice: highlights of this month’s happenings in art, theater, film, dance and music

Boutique Bazaar: distinctive small shops in the East Bay

Food for Thought: local caterers and food and wine purveyors

Dining Guide: a selection of East Bay restaurants

Marketplace Home: a catalog of services for your home and garden

Marketplace Services: a catalog of personal and creative services

Kartoon Korner: editorial cartoons to entertain and agitate

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