november 15
Sounds and Silence A five-day conference and festival, "Here Comes Everybody: The Music, Poetry, and Art of John Cage" includes concerts, films, panel discussions, and art. Scholars and creative luminaries including Kenneth Baker, Marjorie Perloff, and Andrew Culver will pontificate about Cage's legacy. Lou Harrison and others will present and perform his compositions. Last but not least, the Mills College Art Gallery (the gallery that's a museum!) will exhibit his paintings, prints, and drawings. The event begins with From Zero -- four films about Cage by Culver and Frank Scheffer -- at 8 p.m. at Mills College Concert Hall, 5000 MacArthur, Oakland. Tickets are $10 for individual programs, $50 for the entire conference; call (510) 430-2296 for more information.

Double Vision Two of America's foremost photographers step in front of the camera for a documentary double bill: Illuminations: Ruth Bernhard, Photographer by Robert Burrill, and Berenice Abbott: A View of the 20th Century, by Martha Wheelock and Kay Weaver. Illuminations (5:10 and 7:45 p.m.) and Berenice Abbott (6:30 and 9:15 p.m.) screen at the UC Theatre, 2036 University, Berkeley. Tickets are $6.50; call (510) 843-6267.

See Jane Sing Early in her career, Jane Siberry was like a cutesy Canadian version of Laurie Anderson, "precious" in the worst sense of the word. But over time, her musical experimentation has shifted from willfully eccentric folksiness to free-flowing jazz. Siberry's first full-band tour in six years mixes originals with standards like "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Moon River." See (and hear) Jane at 8 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, S.F. Tickets are $21; call 885-0750.

City Sights "My work is concerned with the worlds of America's underclass," states Ken Miller. "In my photographs, I try to understand and appreciate the things that are important in these people's lives: the eerie beauty of a skinhead's tattoo, a whore's pride in her makeup, the misery of an alcoholic being sick." Does Miller bring anything to these subjects, or does he assume that raw subject matter inherently makes good art? Decide for yourself at "Open All Night," a new exhibition of his work. A reception for Miller lasts from 6 to 8 p.m. at Vision North Gallery, 2300 Polk, S.F. Free; call 474-4581.

november 16
Better Homes and Gardens From the '30s through the late '50s, William Wilson Wurster was one of the leading residential architects in America. Characterized by simplicity and livability, his designs often use the natural endowments of a site as a point of departure. Though Wilson's work is far from flamboyant, he has attracted controversy, both through his "regional" Californian style and his advocacy of mass-produced housing (he once built 1,500 units in 72 days). Highlighting 52 dwellings designed between 1922 and 1963, "An Everyday Modernism: The Houses of William Wilson Wurster" includes drawings, photographs, scale models, and mock-ups; you can see it from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the S.F. Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St, S.F. Admission is free-$7; call 357-4000.

Gay Castro Nightmare The late Reinaldo Arenas' superb autobiography, Before Night Falls, is a personal litany of police threats and torturous imprisonment against gay men (like himself) and lesbians in Castro's Cuba; local filmmaker Sonja de Vries' Gay Cuba offers similar stories with visual accompaniment. A one-hour documentary, the film also mixes in humorous and historical footage. De Vries appears at a benefit premiere at 7 p.m. (also Friday) at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, S.F. Tickets are $5-50; call 282-7231.

Spooky Moves The latest dance/theater work by the New York-based Dance KUMIKOKIMOTO, Masao combines choreography by Kumiko Kimoto with percussive electronic music. The piece's musical collaborators include Kimoto, the Subliminal Kid, Ikue Mori, Yuval Gabay, and DJ Spooky (whose dark, sexy recordings with Billie Ray Martin are equal to Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer's best disco dramas). The show starts at 8 p.m. (continuing through Sunday) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Tickets are $12.50-18.50; call 621-7797.

november 17
Stephin the Great Bubble-gum genius Stephin Merritt is so prolific he has four different groups -- the 6ths, the Magnetic Fields (see Recordings this issue), the Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes. A fantastic lyricist, great melodist, and strange-sound scientist extraordinaire, Merritt is unappreciated by gay men who'd rather listen to brain-dead techno and steroid rock, and indie rockers who wouldn't know inventive instrumentation and composition if they smacked them upside the head. But that's OK -- he keeps writing Casio 'n' guitar classics like "Strange Powers" (in which he rhymes "Coney Island" with "prostitutes in Thailand," likens a love-struck kiss to "a flying saucer landing," and describes a Las Vegas where "The electric bills are staggering/ The decor hog-wild/ And the entertainment saccharine"). The sullen, diminutive charmer opens for the Tindersticks at 9 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 474-0365.

Wild Kingdom Zentropa director Lars von Trier's new film, The Kingdom, is five butt-numbing hours long, and it's set in a Danish hospital to boot. But those five hours -- divided into four segments -- feature a head-severing intern, a zombie-plagued dream center, an ambulance from hell, two all-knowing but retarded dishwashers, an alien pregnancy, and Haitian voodoo. Parts 1 and 2 of The Kingdom screen at 1 and 7 p.m.; Parts 3 and 4 screen at 3:40 and 9:35 p.m. at the Castro, Castro and Market, S.F. The Kingdom continues through Nov. 23. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.

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