Rebel Reads It's no secret that Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings holds a top spot on the fundamentalists' library hit list for its "pornographic" content, but who would have suspected Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach? Folks in Stafford County, Va., did, and removed it from library shelves because, some said, it "encouraged children to disobey their parents." The San Francisco Library celebrates Banned Book Week with a rare-book auction at 4 p.m. today and the sale of over 100,000 books from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday at Fort Mason Center, S.F. Admission is free for regular events, $15 for the auction; call 557-4257.
Lyrical Legacy Ballet Folklorico de Mexico's return to the Bay Area is long overdue -- the 44-year-old company's last local appearance took place a quarter-century ago. On this tour they present the premiere of the two-part Chihuahua, based on the history and culture of Mexico's largest state. The first half focuses on the music and dance of the indigenous Tarahumaras and nature's springtime rituals; the second half shows the region's contemporary influences like waltzes and polkas, which came to Mexico from Poland via Spaniards. Director Amalia Hernandez has traveled the Mexican countryside with a movie camera and a tape recorder, preserving traditional costumes and dances; although she choreographs original work, her company's repertoire serves as a living Latin American cultural history. The performance begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.) at the Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor, S.F. Admission is $25-55; call 433-9500.
Devil Doll Interviews with anorexics, artists, collectors, and career women set the tone for I, Doll: The Unauthorized Biography of America's 11 1/2" Sweetheart. Tula Asselanis' video essay on that most plastic of all American icons, Barbie, screens with the Barbie Liberation Organization's B.L.O. Nightly News, a faux newscast on the nationally publicized incident in which Barbie's and G.I. Joe's voice boxes were switched. Hear Joe say "Math is hard" at 8 p.m. at the ATA Gallery, 992 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $5; 824-3890.
Best Face Forward Cal Performances opens its '96-97 season in grand style with the Grand Kabuki Theater of Japan. The 65-member troupe specializes in spectacle: A full song and percussion ensemble punctuates the onstage action, where dramatic poses and symbolic makeup help tell the story. Kabuki star Nakamura Kichiemon II leads the players through the 1719 vehicle Shunkan -- The Exile on Devil's Island and the one-act comedy Tsuri Onna -- Fishing for a Wife. Kabuki was originally performed by women, but they were banned from the stage in the 1600s, so the lovelies in this production are actually male onnagata actors. The show opens with a gala performance at 8 p.m. (also Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m.) at Zellerbach Hall, Telegraph & Bancroft, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $30-100; call (510) 642-9988.
Election-Year Drama The California Shakespeare Festival closes its '96 season with a timely tale of political corruption and vice in the tragicomedy Measure for Measure. The respectable Angelo (Bruce Ladd) is on his way to rid Vienna of dirty dealings when the temptation to abuse his power and satisfy his desires interferes with his professional resolve. See how social decay and moral weakness have changed (or haven't) over a few hundred years at 8 p.m. (continuing through Oct. 6) at the Bruns Memorial Amphitheater, 100 Gateway at Highway 24, Orinda. Admission is $10-32; call (510) 548-9666.
Tone It Up A second chance to relive ska's early greatness -- the first came this summer with the Specials tour -- presents itself at the upcoming Selecter show. With Two-Tone labelmates the Specials and Madness, the Selecter brought danceable new energy to the reggae-infused pop initiated by '60s bands like the Skatalites, ultimately snagging top spots on late-'70s and early '80s charts. The Selecter showed its reggae influence more than most in songs like "On My Radio" and "Too Much Pressure." Singers Pauline Black and "Gaps" Hendrickson reunited in 1991 and brought in ex-Bad Manners members to create The Happy Album. Now signed to Triple X, the group's latest, Back Out on the Streets, is a combination of previously released and new tracks. The Workin' Stiffs and the Skeletones open at 8 p.m. at the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St., S.F. Admission is $12.50-15; call 995-4600.
Always on a Sunday Yanos Lustig, a young saxophonist and Berkeley School of Music alum, brings his quartet to an ongoing jam session designed to match up older players with new faces on the local jazz scene. This week finds Black Note bassist Marc Shelby, pianist Jacob Semetko, and drummer Brian Bowman trading notes with Lustig's foursome. Next week -- who knows? The jamming begins at 9 p.m. at Bruno's, 2389 Mission, S.F. Admission is $2; call 550-7455.
Fun Without Frontiers The shout-outs are telling at Festival de las Americas: When performers take the stages at this giant street party, they're likely to ask the people from Mexico or Chile or Nicaragua to make some noise. The event celebrates the independence days of these countries as well as El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Brazil with a day of live Latin music, dance, food, and arts and crafts from several regions. The traditional entertainment and kids activities bump up against Rollerblading and hip hop, but it's a mix that works well with this year's theme, "Con Respeto -- Sin Fronteras" ("Respect -- Without Borders"). The festival begins at 11 a.m. along 24th Street between York and Mission, S.F. Admission is free; call 826-1401.