Big Goddess Pow Wow Five of Chicago's most eloquent spoken-word divas bring their brand of balls-out divinity to San Francisco. The event was named The Big Goddess Pow Wow in 1989 by performance artist Paula Killen, who first thought of bringing the Windy City's women together in a single evening of performance. Since then, the Pow Wow has become one of its hometown's major theater events, drawing audiences of 600-plus. Previous performers include Liz Phair and Pulitzer-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks. This year's featured artists are Killen; performance poet Lisa Buscani, individual winner of 1992's International Poetry Slam; sometime standup comedian and guitarist Marcia Wilkie; performance duo Betty's Mouth; and Nora Dunn, currently on NBC's Sisters and a five-year veteran of Saturday Night Live. The Goddesses appear Fri-Sat, April 28-29, 10:30 pm, at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $12-15; call 641-0235.
East Bay Pow Wow Across the bridge from the Goddess, five homegrown women offer a series of readings and performances titled Our Black Bodies: Writings on the Lips, Hips, Nose, Naps and Thighs. Curated by Marvin White and Laurette Hamilton, the program explores sexuality, body myths and color lines. Participants include Fruitvale poet and singer Ananda; Oakland resident Aloina Gibson, whose first book, Nappy: Growing Up Black and Female in America, will soon join the growing literature of the politics of hair; Medea Project member Nancy Elizabeth Jones; San Francisco writer and spoken-word artist Jillian Mosley; and Gabriel Stover, an East Bay witch in training. The exploration starts at 8 pm at Small Press Distribution, 1814 San Pablo, Berkeley. Admission is $5; call (510) 549-3077.
Soupstock Food Not Bombs has been gleefully "bumrushing the new world austerity order" for 15 years. Now performers like Frightwig, Neurosis, Culture of Rage, Ski Mask and Clip are gathering to help the organization celebrate its long-term efforts to reduce hunger among the urban needy, most recently by flouting city ordinances forbidding public distribution of free food without a license. The event they've dubbed Soupstock is sure to be a riot, or maybe just a low-key good time in the park. The free concert runs noon to 6 pm at the Band Shell in Golden Gate Park, S.F.; call 552-4667.
Come Together In their new book, Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin, Michael Lerner and Cornel West offer spirited debate about affirmative action, Zionism and crime. No matter how close to the bone their disagreements cut, however, the authors explore differences in a constructive dialogue. Watch the debate firsthand when Lerner, the editor and publisher of Tikkun: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture and Society, and Cornel West, author of Race Matters and a professor of African American studies at Harvard, rehash the controversial subject matter of their book at 8 pm at Martin Luther King Junior High School, 1781 Rose, Berkeley. Admission is $10; call (510) 848-6767 ext. 612.
Jayhawks After seven years in the semi-shadows of the American pop-rock scene, these masters of hayseed grunge finally hit it big with their 1992 single Waiting for the Sun from Hollywood Town Hall. A grueling tour in support of the album kept the group out of the recording studio until the spring of 1994. But the Jayhawks are on the road again, this time promoting their newest release, Tomorrow the Green Grass. Catch them with openers the Bottle Rockets at 9 pm at Slim's, 333 11th St, S.F. Tickets are $12; call 621-3330.
Cinco de Mayo Often mislabeled a Mexican Independence Day celebration, Cinco de Mayo actually marks Mexico's first strike for freedom in 1862, when an outmanned, outgunned, undernourished battalion of Mexicans led by Miguel Hidalgo y Costillas took up arms against the French Imperial Army. Since the 1960s, Cinco de Mayo has taken off as one of the major Chicano celebrations in the U.S. This year's San Francisco festival starts sabado (Saturday) in Civic Center Plaza, but the parade, which includes floats, dances from Mexico's different regions (including some pre-Colombian Aztec dances) and charros (a kind of Mexican cowboy), winds its way through S.F.'s Mission District beginning at 11 am domingo. In keeping with the theme of this year's celebration -- honoring children -- kids from local elementary schools will act as grand marshals. The parade starts at 24th St & Bryant and proceeds to 14th St & Mission. The festival proper, which features not only entertainment but medical and educational information, takes place at Civic Center Plaza Sat-Sun, April 29-30, 11 am-7 pm. Admission is $1-4, children under 12 are free; call 826-1401.
Quiz Bang "A gayme show for the '90s," Quiz Bang will test your grasp of such trivia as which lesbian queen was the last of the House of Stuart, which gay actor has won the most Oscars, and which Hollywood Squares host appeared in drag as a homicidal maniac. Bone up on your knowledge of the irreverent and irrelevant and head on down to watch contestants gnaw on the toughest brain teasers in live theater. Starring Randy Paulos as Quiz Master and Birdie Bob-Watt as Quiz Mistress, Quiz Bang has an open-ended Monday-night run -- show time is 8 pm -- at the Cable Car Theatre, 430 Mason, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 956-8497.