Sharp Shooter There's been lots of talk lately about the plight of Tibetans, who have endured Chinese occupation of their nation since 1945, but photographer Phil Borges' powerful, vivid work speaks volumes. The Seattle documentarian presents a slide show and discussion of his new book, Tibetan Portrait, at "Tibetan Portrait: The Power of Compassion," a multimedia event benefiting the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet. Tibetan music and dance by Chaksam-Pa and the world premiere of the film Ngawang Choephel: Portrait of a Political Prisoner are also on the program, which begins at 7 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, Telegraph & Bancroft, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $10-12; call (510) 642-9988.
Catholic Boy Comeback Restless energy and a keen eye are two of Jim Carroll's best attributes, although his heroin habit nearly eclipsed both. Back in the '60s, Carroll was a hoops-shooting, smartass NYC kid whose athletic and academic skills had to compete with his drug use, which began early in his teen years and dragged into the '70s. Carroll laid bare his experiences with drugs, sex, and crime in a brutally honest and funny journal, which became The Basketball Diaries. He turned from poet to musician with the encouragement of Patti Smith, and created some edgy, punk-influenced underground classics, including the autobiographical "People Who Died." After a stint with Bay Area band Amsterdam (he kicked heroin in Bolinas), he moved back to Manhattan, and to writing. Carroll airs his talent for lyrical irony in a spoken-word show -- the Killer B's open at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, S.F. Admission is $12.50; call 885-0750.
Know Your 'Wrights Broadway's next big thing may be breaking out soon, and you could say you saw it first at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival 19, a series of staged readings of new plays and plays in progress, overseen by Artistic Director Jayne Wenger. Sam Shepard, Anna Deavere Smith, and David Henry Hwang are among the more than 200 playwrights who have used the series as a public training ground. This year's installment includes Holly Hughes' Snatches of Saginaw, a narrative on growing up gay in America, and Robert Alexander's A Preface to the Alien Garden, a deconstruction of inner-city turmoil that blends hip-hop and sci-fi styles. The first performance, Brighde Mullins' Topographical Eden, takes place on All Souls Day 1976 at the Buddha Buffet in Las Vegas. It begins at 8:30 p.m. (the fest continues through Sept. 22) at the Magic Theater, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, S.F. Admission is $9; call 263-3986.
Proud, Part 2 The New Conservatory Theater Center's first series of works by gay playwrights saw sold-out houses and extended runs, and generated a second season, called "Moving Forward With Pride." Among the works scheduled for this round are Edwin Sanchez's erotic drama Trafficking in Broken Hearts; The Lonely Planet, Steven Dietz's take on love and fear in the age of AIDS; and the opening production, Fortune and Men's Eyes, John Herbert's 1967 story of incarcerated Canadian youth, which previews at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 26; the "Pride" series continues through July 19, 1997) at the NCTC, 25 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16-20; call 861-8972.
Voices of Experience Studs Terkel's books Working, Race, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good War have relayed various aspects of the American experience as told to him by Americans. His latest, Coming of Age, examines the familiar themes of life and work in the 20th century. Oral historian Sydney Lewis, who has worked with Terkel, and who interviewed kids aged 13 to 19 for her most recent book "A Totally Alien Life Form" -- Teenagers, will have an onstage conversation with Terkel about his dealings with the people, both for his books and on his 38-year-old talk-radio show. The conversation begins at 8 p.m. at Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16; call 392-4400.
Hootin' and Hollerin' Before Reverend Horton Heat there was Ronnie Dawson, but this week marks their simultaneous appearance. Dawson, nicknamed "The Blonde Bomber," is one of the original rockabilly masters. His rock 'n' roll guitar swing, perfected over four decades, is embellished with blues and country licks, and his influence shows in a second wave of rockabilly players, among them the Cramps (who covered his hit "Rockin' Bones") and fellow Texan Heat. The Reverend isn't really a man of the cloth, but the religious fervor and trashy good humor he and his band bring to twangy old-style rockabilly is genuinely touching. Sleepy LaBeef opens for Dawson at 10 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., S.F. Admission is $5; call 626-1409. The Lunachicks and Reacharound open for Reverend Horton Heat at 8 p.m. at the Warfield, 982 Market, S.F. Admission is $15; call 775-7722.
Fools Rush In If It's a Wonderful Life had been a musical comedy, it might have been Shlemiel the First. Based on the play and short stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer and set to klezmer, the buoyant violin-driven music of traditional Jewish celebrations, Shlemiel tells the tale of a frazzled angel who is supposed to distribute a bag of fools evenly throughout the world but accidentally drops his entire load on the town of Chelm. The fool Shlemiel is sent from Chelm to spread the word but gets lost in town and winds up seeing his life in a new way. American Repertory Theater Director Robert Brustein and choreographer David Gordon collaborated on the show. It previews at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 13) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary, S.F. Admission is $14-47.50; call 749-2228.
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.
Signs of Life Variety is the operative word at "Vital Signs" as dance, music, and theater artists join in a benefit performance for the HIV/AIDS information network the Healing Alternatives Foundation. Comedian (aka Supervisor) Tom Ammiano serves as emcee as the Hot Pants Homo Players toast the election year with an excerpt from their pulp fiction-style stage show Senator Swish. Also on the bill are, among others, ODC/San Francisco, who perform Confessions of a J Walker, a dance based on Kevin Thaddeus Paulson's short story "On Traffic Misdemeanors"; and performance artist Rhodessa Jones, who salutes the late dance-maker Arnie Zane. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $15; call 621-7797.
Turn! Turn! Turn! If you've ever wondered where the time goes, look to "Cycles of Change" for some answers. This multimedia, interactive exhibit puts the cyclical patterns of the cosmos in context, demonstrating how nature continually adjusts and renews itself. "Planetary Orbits" ties the Earth's path around the sun to agricultural and seasonal patterns, while the beating of a day-old embryo's heart at the "Chick Embryo" station illustrates the biological cycles of fertilization, growth, reproduction, and death. The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. (and continues through Jan. 5, 1997) at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, S.F. Admission is free-$9; call 563-7337.