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Our September Movers & Shakers

By Riley McDermid

Six high achievers on our radar this month, from Bay Area heavyweights to the next generation shaking things up

R.O. Kwon

A big round of applause for the Noe Valley-based novelist, whose debut novel “The Incendiaries” is grabbing headlines and sparking major conversations about the intersections of faith, terrorism and coming of age — and has sparked talk of San Francisco’s emergence as a hothouse for major new talent. Over a decade in the writing, the novelist’s showstopper literally begins with an explosion and its aftershocks have jolted Kwon into the pantheon of literary darlings. Kwon told The Atlantic that the attention to sound and flow that has book lovers kvelling was refined by reading back portions aloud whilst fine tuning. “It’s not just about the thought that’s being

Zoë Keating

Already well-known for her works as a composer and a performer, the cellist brought in stellar reviews of another kind this summer during her transformative residency at SFJAZZ, delighting the jazz and classical fans among us alike. “[A performance] means imperfections and spontaneous parts that have never happened before,” Keating told the Mercury News. “It’s important to me that whatever is happening right then is not going to occur again. Jazz musicians understand that.” That approach worked magic: While some fans came to hear her perform her Billboard Classical Albums hit “Snowmelt,” many others took to social media to rave about Keating’s experimental, brilliant usage of electronics, whimsy and her cello to reinvent the genre in real time.

Ed Catmull

News that the president of Pixar Animation Studios recently sold his palatial Pacific Heights home for $12.3 million has caused a frisson of excitement for the neighborhood — particularly considering that Catmull originally bought the Arthur Brown Jr.-designed property for $9.95 million less than three years ago. The four-time Oscar winner will probably miss the home’s 6,700-square-foot footprint encompassing five bedrooms and six baths over four levels (and its wine cellar, theater, gym and wood-paneled library), but we’re sure that the new owners will be delighted by its many charms — and we’ve sent them a copy of the Gazette to welcome them to the neighborhood, just to make them feel at home!

Kara Swisher

The co-founder of tech news hub Recode can add another line to her resume: New York Times editorial board contributor. “There is no major tech figure of the last quarter century whom Kara hasn’t grilled, no big story she hasn’t covered, often ahead of everyone else,” wrote New York Times editors James Bennet, Jim Dao and Katie Kingsbury announcing her selection. Together with fellow longtime tech reporter Walt Mossberg, Swisher created the Recode empire, including the popular Code conference and Recode Decode podcast. With 1.25 million Twitter followers, the self-described “grump lady of tech’s” no-punches-pulled interviews with Silicon Valley’s top dogs can launch a thousand headlines. (Just ask Mark Zuckerberg, whose recent remarks during a podcast interview with Swisher led to a minor media storm.)

Cynthia Marshall

The U.C. Berkeley alumna has been grabbing headlines after becoming the NBA’s first black CEO, taking the helm of the Dallas Mavericks. Marshall, a former top AT&T exec, was a Cal cheerleader in the late 1980s, when she became the squad’s first black female member. Now, Marshall is revamping a club that’s been rocked by allegations of domestic abuse and sexual harassment — something she’s tackling head on, most recently by changing the way the Mavericks cheerleaders perform. “We want the focus to be on the dancers as artists and to highlight their skills, not be eye candy or sexualized,” she told the Dallas Morning News recently. “The dancers are doing nothing wrong; what they wear and how they dance is a part of the culture and the atmosphere that has been around for the past two decades.”

expressed,” she says. “It’s also about what the words are doing with one another and how they’re playing together.”

Seth Socolow

Tennis lovers, rejoice: San Francisco got 11 new or improved tennis courts this summer, courtesy of San Franciscans for Sports and Recreation and its founder — just in time for September’s US Open. That brings the grand total of new or resurfaced tennis courts in our fair city to 15 over the last nine months, all of which have been given a new lease on life via an $864,000 grant from the nonprofit, which partnered with the San Francisco Rec and Parks Department to revamp some of SF’s 140 public courts. So far, Potrero Hill, the Richmond, Silver Terrace and a handful of other neighborhoods have gotten improved spaces for tennis lovers via the program. “I think it’s incredibly important for a community,” Socolow told KGO this summer.

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