Watch It, Buster According to legend, Buster Keaton was born during a cyclone 100 years ago. One of silent film's greatest talents (only Charlie Chaplin approaches his flair for physical comedy), Keaton the actor specialized in lovable wimps and triumphant underdogs, while Keaton the director favored the surreal. Part of a centennial tribute to the great goofus, the feature-length Seven Chances finds Buster proposing to everyone in a skirt (including a Scotsman) in a last-ditch attempt to win an inheritance; it's followed by a program of shorts, including Convict 13, where Buster leads a prison break, and Cops, which pits him against the entire New York Police Department. Showtimes are 2:20, 3:40, 5, 6:20, 7:40, & 9 p.m. at the Castro, Castro and Market, S.F. Tickets are $7; call 621-6120.
Froot Loopy Toons Annette Funicello meets the Ramones in the repertoire of Pineapple Princess, a female duo who sport spiky stems on top of their heads as they serenade the audience and strum twin ukuleles. Their Polynesian punk is one small part of an evening's worth of local music (Fifty Million, David Tolsen of Flying Saucer), film (Sarah Jacobsen's I Was a Teenage Serial Killer; Danny Plotnick's Steel Belted Romeos), and musical film (Gibbs Chapman's Meet the Thinking Fellers). Proceeds from the event help Artists' Television Access pay for a back stock of magnetic film, now that 3M corporation has ceased producing it. The rock-away beach party starts at 8 p.m. at the Chameleon, 853 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $3-5; call 821-1891.
Heaven in Harlem One sunny afternoon in 1958, Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and 52 other jazz legends came together to be photographed on the steps of a Harlem brownstone. Through stills, 8mm footage, archival performance clips, and interviews, Jean Bach's Academy Award-nominated documentary A Great Day in Harlem captures the moment and pays tribute to the artists involved. A champagne reception and benefit screening for the S.F. Jazz Festival -- featuring appearances by Bach and pianists Marian McPartland and Mike Lipskin -- begin at 7 p.m. at the new Goldwyn/Landmark Embarcadero Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Center, S.F. Tickets are $50 ($10 for a 9 p.m. non-champagne, non-star screening); call 392-4400.
The Ronstadt Conspiracy Pocho Productions have pulled some great pranks, but their crowning glory has to be a recent appearance on the internationally broadcast talk show Telemundo, as a group called Hispanics for Wilson. Posing as Proposition 187 supporters (using names like "Daniel D. Portado"), Lalo Lopez and Esteban Zul complained about unhealthy Mexican food in California, accused Linda Ronstadt of luring Mexicans to the U.S. with "garbled Spanish yodeling," and promised to create "self-deportation" centers for themselves and other "crimmigrants." The show's host, panelists (liberal and conservative), and audience took them seriously, proof that satire is alive and well in political debate, even if sanity isn't. (What would the Latino equivalent of GLAAD think?) See the show, other Pocho "mockumentaries," and art (including work by SF Weekly cartoonist Lalo Alcarez) at a benefit for the group's first feature-length film, The Mexecutioner. The high jinks start at 7:30 p.m. at La Pe–a Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck, Berkeley. Tickets are $5; call (510) 849-2568.
Jose the Robust A critic recently described veteran dancer Jose Greco as "unbelievably hale." According to Random House, that means "robust." Credited by many as the man who introduced Spanish flamenco to the American public, Greco (now in his 70s) has been dancing since 1939, so hale or robust, either way, it's an accomplishment. His current show, El Duende del Flamenco, features younger talents as well; they include dancer/choreographer Antonio del Castillo and (making her U.S. debut) Isabel Trevino. The drama starts at 8 p.m. at the Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter, S.F. Performances continue through Aug. 6. Tickets are $20-35; call 771-6900.
Musical Goulash In Being Alive, local playwright Philip Horvitz (Yes I Can) sticks to his -- and many other local artists' -- forte: art that's a crazy stew of seemingly disparate pop references. This time around, Horvitz weds Stephen Sondheim's musical Company to Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra, seasoning the mix with snippets of dialogue from various perverse "family values" films of the '60s and '70s (The Graduate, Psycho, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Rosemary's Baby, and more). The finished creation spoofs past and current notions of culture and morality. Find out if it does so successfully at 8 p.m. at the Exit Theater, 156 Eddy, S.F. Performances continue through July 29. Tickets are $5-10; call 436-0532.
Natural Soul Shining stars of '70s soul, Earth, Wind, & Fire continue to thrive as an 11-piece live act, even without astrology-obsessed main songwriter Maurice White. Part of the reason is Philip Bailey's joyful falsetto; as dance music sinks deeper and deeper into drug-laden, song-free interchangeability, Bailey and company represent a time when the genre offered celebratory anthems that brought people together. They probably won't be wearing gold lame, black tights, and platform shoes, but they probably will be performing truly great hits like "Fantasy," "Serpentine Fire," "September," and "Let's Groove." Take a trip to "Boogie Wonderland" at 8 p.m. at Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. Tickets are $18.50-35; call 962-1000.
Spirits in the Sky Challenging gravity to attain a floating, dreamlike quality, Project Bandaloop's inventive dance performances on cliffs, rooftops, and scaffolding have garnered attention from PBS and Sports Illustrated. Scored by Scott Huckabay, The Floating Ground places the group's aerial acrobatics in a traditional theatrical setting; a short performance by Scott Wells Dance Company rounds out the program. The flying and falling starts at 8 p.m. Fri-Sat at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, S.F. Tickets are $12.50-14.50; call 392-4400.
Guffaws a Go-Go Nervous Laughter was formed in 1993 by a group of San Francisco comics desperate for an outlet outside of the suburban mall and bar circuit; combining stand-up skills with sketches and character studies, they've created their very own strange mutation of comedy theater. Of the ensemble's 15 performers, one (Harmon Leon) contributes to SF Weekly; another (Liz White) has been in a Tyson chicken commercial. As for the other 13, you can see them at 10 p.m. at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, S.F. For ticket information call 541-5024.
Dances With Gongs This week's installment in the Bay Area Dance Series leaps out of contemporary America to explore cross-cultural ties in the South Pacific. Mahea Uchiyama honors her Nubian cultural heritage with Raks al Balad el-Aman, the Kauatuahine Polynesian Dance Company celebrates Tahitian traditions in Heiva Tahiti, and Likha-Pilipino Folk Ensemble presents dances from the Muslim region of the Philippines, including Singkil, a royal courtship dance involving flashing swords, resounding gongs and bells, and swirling fans. The show starts at 8 p.m. (also July 16 at 3 p.m.) at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon, S.F. Tickets are $5-15; call (510) 889-9550.
Don't Rock the Boat The tall ship Californian isn't just tall, it's big: 149 square feet big. Modeled after an 18th-century schooner, it provides a rare contemporary opportunity to sail aboard a historic vessel. Seasick sailors beware -- a gourmet lunch will be served as the Californian departs (on a four-hour tour) at noon from Pier 40, S.F. Tickets are $75 (money goes to the nonprofit Nautical Heritage Society); call (800) 432-2201.
Polk Street Blues Polk Street will literally sing the blues this weekend. Blues & Art on Polk features nonstop sounds on two stages; arts and crafts by more than 100 creators; Thai, Greek, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and American food booths; and plenty of alcohol to drown one's sorrows, whether they're inspired by music or life. Performers on the festival's first day include the Mark Naftalin R&B Revue, Nitecry, and the Tommy Castro Band. The music plays Sat-Sun from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Polk between California and Jackson, S.F. Free; 346-4561.
Shamrock Rock Pony rides, a petting zoo, clowns and ... indie rock. There's something for almost everyone at the Shamrock Ranch Tunnel Festival, a fund-raising fair for a proposed tunnel that -- unlike the controversial Devil's Slide bypass -- won't encircle the ranch and wreak havoc on nearby natural surroundings. Organized by citizens groups, ranch employees, and ranch boarders, the event features an art and photo exhibit, guided nature walks, a dog obedience exhibition, and a 10-kilometer run. It also features music by S.F. indie queen Barbara Manning, who plays the role of cocktail chanteuse quite nicely on a new LP collaboration with Stuart Moxham. Hear the sounds of guitars and animals from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Shamrock Ranch, Peralta Road, Pacifica. Suggested donations are $3 for children, $7 for adults; call 522-2322.
Strolling for Dollars AIDS Walk San Francisco is Northern California's largest AIDS fund-raising event; last year, 18,000 people helped raise $2.8 million. Money from this year's 10-kilometer walk primarily goes to the S.F. AIDS Foundation, but 28 other support groups and projects will also receive donations. With the seemingly immortal Jesse Helms on another hateful anti-funding rampage, it's more important than ever for citizens to do the right thing. Help out at 9:30 a.m. at Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Call 392-9255 for registration and pledge information.
World Cup Soccer balls flew fast and furious at last year's World Cup celebration, thanks to the tournament's California location and a Brazilian triumph. Regardless of who wins this year, samba, lambada, batacuda, capoeira, and maculele will spill onto the streets, along with food and drinks. Bands performing include Pandemonium, Entre Nós, and Viva Brasil; dancers include Aquarela, Birds of Paradise, Gingarte, Batœ Pitœ, and Fogo Na Roupa. The festivities start at noon (and last until 9 p.m.) in front of Bahia Cabana Restaurant and Club, Page & Franklin, S.F. Free; call 626-3306.
You Gotta Have Art In terms of history and tradition, Eleanore Austerer Gallery is one of the most impressive downtown San Francisco galleries: In addition to a rotating exhibition of contemporary painting and sculpture, it also features a permanent collection of rare graphic work by Braque, Chagall, Cassatt, Kandinsky, Matisse, Miro, Picasso, and Renoir. See for yourself from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 540 Sutter, S.F. Free; call 986-2244.
Join Our Club In one of the nastier, wittier essays within her nasty, witty, wonderful new book, The Snarling Citizen, Barbara Ehren-reich argues that political parties, religions, and wacko/Waco cults are all essentially one and the same. Since she's a clinical psychologist and not a media pundit, Margaret Thaler Singer takes a different view; co-written with former cult member Janja Lalich, Singer's Cults in Our Midst argues that 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are not cults. Find out why and see if you agree at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books, 1491 Shattuck, Berkeley. Free; call (510) 486-0698.
Noise Annoys When bands with names like Grotus and Neurosis get together to play, it's a safe bet the sounds that result will be pretty loud, and not very pretty. If cacophonous, hypermetal songs about mankind's imminent destruction made by white boys with goatees are your bag, a better double bill than this would be hard to come by. Dig up your industrial-strength black clothes (and your earplugs); the gloom and doom begins at 8 p.m. at the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St, S.F. Tickets are $10; call 995-4600.