Worker Be-In The union of labor and art inspires the 11th annual Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival. This is the place to get tips from political satirist Will Durst, try political songwriting with the S.F. Mime Troupe's Bruce Barthol and theater for social change with Simon Greer, or immerse yourself in an arts and organizing workshop with muralist Juana Alicia. If union organizing provides the bread, the festival provides the roses: Poet Piri Thomas, South African choir Vukani Mawethu, a cappella quintet the Irrationals, and rapper Chill E.B. will perform labor and labor-inspired songs and spoken word. The doors open at 6 p.m. and events begin at 7 p.m. (also Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m.) at the South of Market Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is $20 for Saturday only, $35 for the weekend; call 572-8848.
Going It Alone Existentialism can reduce even an ambitious man to dust in the yawning chasm of eternity; typically, that man is Joseph Chaikin, who performs Samuel Beckett's drama Texts for Nothing solo during a limited local run. Chaikin, who founded the experimental drama collective Open Theater in 1963, revived this piece at Beckett's own suggestion, and has taken it around the world to such exclusive venues as the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Edinburgh Festival. The New Yorker described his expert rendering of a man who veers from wonder to despair as "at once humorous and grave and compassionate." The performance begins at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through Jan. 27) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $25; call 441-8822.
Clooney Tunes Though she could be eclipsed eventually by her increasingly famous nephew (ER star George, with whom she appeared in one episode), singer Rosemary Clooney has logged far more years in the business than he has. A contralto with a lively stage presence, Clooney's strong suit is American musical standards, jazz, and pop tunes. Her career has included collaboration with esteemed lyricists and much-lauded interpretations of songs like "Love Is Here to Stay," "But Not for Me," and her signature song, "Come On-a My House." National Public Radio's Fresh Air host Terry Gross will interview Clooney onstage about the history of her career, and Clooney will perform the music of Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Kern, and others in this City Arts & Lectures event, beginning at 8 p.m. in the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $35-100 ($100 tickets include a post-performance supper at the Hayes Street Grill); call 392-4400.
Music for Munchkins Local kids are treated to an earful of world music when Los Palomitos present a bilingual program of folk, popular, and original children's songs from Central and South America. The musicians play a variety of traditional Latin American instruments, from the Venezuelan cuatro to the Bolivian charango. Meanwhile, the Bay Area Filipino community hosts the Loboc Children's Choir, an award-winning ensemble from the Philippines that has embarked on its first international tour. The 30 youngsters, who hail from the island of Bohol, perform traditional, classical, and contemporary Filipino songs, Western classical music, folk airs, and children's tunes to grand piano accompaniment. Los Palomitos play at 1 p.m. in the California Academy of Sciences Auditorium, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Free with museum admission (free-$7); call 750-7145. The Loboc Children's Choir performs at 3 & 7 p.m. in the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 436-9711.
A Striking Display The two days in which Oakland came to a grinding halt provide a dramatic climax to "Who Shut Down Oakland?," a panel discussion on the 1946 Oakland General Strike. Historian Dr. Charles Wollenberg moderates the talk, which features input from Al Kidder, a picket captain in the Kahn's Department Store strike that led to the general strike; labor historian and former ship scaler Archie Green; labor activist Stan Wier; and Evelyn and Val Schaaf, members of the Technical Engineers, Architects, and Draftsmen Local 89-AFL. Participants will describe events leading up to the strike, the experiences of the 100,000 striking workers from 142 AFL unions, and the strike's overall impact. A documentary on the event, Smashing the Tower, will also be screened. It all begins at 2 p.m. in the James Moore Theater of the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak, Oakland. Free with museum admission ($3-5); call (510) 238-2200. The event is being held in conjunction with the exhibit "We Called It a Work Holiday: The 1946 Oakland General Strike," on view through Feb. 23 in the museum's Breuner Gallery.
The Short Form Writer Lorrie Moore, whose short stories have been published in the Paris Review, the New Yorker, and the anthology The Best American Short Stories, can give readers the long and the short of it with some authority -- she's also the author of the novel Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? Moore, an English prof at the University of Wisconsin, tackles the deceptively easy form that is the short story in her lecture "Some Remarks on the Short Story," which begins at 8 p.m. in the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $16; call 392-4400.
The Madding Crowd Embarking on a 12-state killing spree is one way of expressing anger, but counselor Genevieve Howe has a better plan. Howe teaches a free, open-enrollment, eight-week course called "Anger and Conflict in Relationships" through San Francisco Community College. Learning to recognize hidden anger and blocks to expressing it are part of the curriculum, as are anger vs. assertiveness, fair fighting rules, and dealing with anger in relationships. The idea is to resolve clashes in a reasonable fashion, before doing something rash like smashing up lover boy's record collection. The course begins at 6:30 p.m. at Everett Middle School, 450 Church, S.F. Call 585-5150 for more information.