Biggs Time While many artists will never see their work sharing wall space with that of their creative influences, local cartoonist Brian Biggs is about to enjoy the privilege. The creator of comic books Frederick & Eloise and Dear Julia studied art in Paris, where he discovered French cartoonist Enki Bilal. Bilal's pen and ink drawings open at the Cartoon Art Museum a week after the exhibit "Bay Area Spotlight: Brian Biggs" begins. The darkly comic visions of artist Edward Gorey and filmmakers Jim Jarmusch and the Coen brothers also haunt Biggs' work, which includes contributions to the horror anthology Death Rattle. The exhibit opens at 11 a.m. (and is up through May 18) at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission, S.F. Admission is free-$4; call CAR-TOON.
Dervishly Clever Anyone who remembers spinning around in circles until they fell over or passed out will be awed by the Mevlevi, or whirling dervishes of Turkey. Unlike dizzy kids, the dervishes have more than amusement on their minds: The whirling is a 700-year-old Islamic spiritual exercise. Accompanied by a chorus and traditional flutes, strings, and percussion played by an ensemble of Turkish classical musicians, the dancers, clad in long white skirts and conical camel-skin hats, are transported into a devotional trance through slow, rhythmic spirals and quicker, more energetic spinning. Dr. Kabir Helminski, a translator of poet/Mevlevi founder Jalaluddin Rumi, introduces the troupe. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Admission is $22-25; call 472-3500.
Pill's Pop Birth control pioneer Dr. Carl Djerassi, a commanding presence in the Bay Area's scientific community, won the 1973 National Medal of Science and 15 honorary doctorates for creating the first commercial oral contraceptive. Djerassi, a professor of chemistry at Stanford, is a prolific author with poetry, essays, short stories, novels, and 1,200 scientific papers to his credit. He'll mine two areas of personal interest for his lecture "Why Does Science-in-Fiction Provide Answers to Questions Such as 'Where Is the Pill for Men?' " at 7 p.m., followed by a book-signing, at the Mechanics' Institute Library, 57 Post, S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 421-1750.
Snow Job Mikhail Bulgakov's novels were discovered in America before many of his Soviet comrades ever got the chance to read him. Though he was known in his own country as a playwright, much of his work, including the hilarious church- and state-skewering novel The Master & Margarita, was banned from publication or performance there until the mid-'60s. The Actors Theater stages Black Snow, a farce about an egomaniacal theater company's ruination of an impoverished playwright's work, adapted from Bulgakov's 1936 novel A Theatrical Romance. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through March 15) at the Actors Theater, 533 Sutter, S.F. Admission is $16-18; call 296-9179.
Everybody Say Hay Believing in fairies is simply not enough: Keith Hennessy, Carol Queen, Joan Jett-Blakk, Sparrow 13 LaughingWand, and various others have joined forces for "Queer Nights," a group show of radical queer performance and spoken word benefiting Eric Slade's documentary on Harry Hay, a founder of the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries. The 84-year-old gay activist will speak about his work, which sowed the seeds of gay civil rights as far back as 1950. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also on Saturday) at 848 Community Space, 848 Divisadero, S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 863-2609.
The Greater Good Black History Month is ushered in at a gala benefit with the African and African-American Performing Arts Coalition. This performance showcase runs the gamut, from calypso dance with Celisse Johnson, Brazilian dance by the Aisha Aku Company, and Haitian dance and drumming by Le Petit Croix to African drumming by Malonga Casquelourd, hip-hop dance with Housin' Authority, solo theater by Shakiri, and modern dance by Robert Moses' Kin. The show, which features different lineups each day, begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.) at ODC Performance Gallery, 3153 17th St., S.F. Admission is $12.50-25; call 863-9834 for schedule information.
Cabinet Maker As a former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, David Gergen may not be the ideal candidate for the editor-at-large position he now holds at U.S. News & World Report, but he's certainly qualified to speak on "Politics of American Leadership," which he does at 4:45 p.m. at the World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter, S.F. Admission is $7-17; call 982-2541.
Back Talk The Summer of Love was just one season in San Francisco's long history of political and social rebellion, which began more than a century before with the rowdy days of the Gold Rush. Local historian and author William Issel moderates a two-day symposium on the city's various activist movements, beginning with the session "Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Cultures" at 7 p.m. The Saturday morning sessions include "Native Americans" and "Labor and the Left" beginning at 10 a.m.; the afternoon sessions, which begin at 1:30 p.m., include "The African-American Civil Rights Movement," "La Raza Movement," "Chinese-American Political and Social Reform," and "The Environmental Movement." All sessions are held in the New Main Library's Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin, S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4277.
Burns, Baby, Burns Hundreds of years before Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and his formidable Scottish burr generated a buzz in the literary world, Scottish poet Robert Burns published Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. Welsh must have taken a tip from Burns, whose poetry celebrates his rural countrymen, and whose life was marked by female trouble, hard work, and drinking to oblivion. The Scottish Cultural and Arts Foundation celebrates the poet's birthday with "Burns Night," an honest tribute that shuns toasts to the queen and favors guests with live bagpiping and Celtic music performed by Storm in a Teacup, a recitation of Burns' poems like "Comin' Thro' the Rye," bevvyin' (drinking), and a haggis ceremony, which must be seen to be believed. "Burns Night" begins at 8 p.m. at Edinburgh Castle, 950 Geary, S.F. Admission is $5; call 552-9621.
HUD Games First-time home-buyers finally get a break at an educational seminar on navigating through all aspects of the often-complicated process. Participants will receive a certificate of completion allowing them to participate in special Fannie Mae and HUD community first-time home-buyer programs, particularly those geared toward low-to-moderate-income households. The seminar, sponsored by the California Dream Alliance and Golden Gate University Consumer Credit Counseling Services, begins at 9 a.m. at Golden Gate University, Room 510, 536 Mission, S.F. Admission is free; call 392-HOME.
More Bang for the Buck Russian soldiers are taken captive by the residents of a remote Muslim village in Sergei Bordov's new film, Prisoner of the Mountains, an adaptation of Tolstoy's Caucasian Captive and a Golden Globe nominee for best foreign-language film. Recent clashes between Russia and Chechnya echo through the slow development of an uneasy peace between warring factions here. For regular museum admission, audiences can take in both the film and the surrounding exhibits. Prisoner screens at 2 p.m. in the Trustees' Auditorium of the Asian Art Museum, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is $6; call 379-8879.
Arts A-Peale Not only did painter Charles Willson Peale name some of his children after famous artists, including Rubens, Titian, and Rembrandt, he had an artistic bent so strong it influenced nearly every member of his family. Over 100 paintings by three Peale women and seven Peale men will be shown in the exhibit "The Peale Family: Creation of an American Legacy, 1770-1870." Portraits and trompe l'oeil still lifes are among the highlights of the exhibit, which opens at 9:30 a.m. (and is up through April 6) at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free-$6; call 863-3330.
Punk's Not Dead: It's Just Resting Nonracist, nonsexist, nonhomophobic punks who don't stage dive, drink, smoke, do drugs, or use pogo sticks are in for a rockin' good time when Pansy Division and Team Dresch play a doubleheader. Those folks who comply with the club's criteria, and who have in their possession a 924 Gilman membership card, are in luck: Team Dresch's latest release, Captain, My Captain, offers a refreshing blend of sarcasm, rage, and melancholy, tunefully crafted by a dyke band comprised of veteran players, among them Jody Bleyle of Hazel and Donna Dresch, formerly of Dinosaur Jr. and Screaming Trees. Pansy Division, meanwhile, opened some eyes as openers on a national Green Day tour, with punk-pop invoking the Ramones ("I just wanna have some kicks/ I just wanna get some dicks") and the approving ghost of the late Kurt Cobain ("Smells Like Queer Spirit"). Cypher in the Snow, Eye Claudia, and Half-Empty kick off the show at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman, Berkeley. Admission is $5; call (510) 525-9926.
What's the 411? Looking busy at work just got easier with Local 411, an interactive sound installation that's educational, too. Ian Pollock and Janet Silk have created a call-in voice-mail system based on the commercial redevelopment of the Yerba Buena area. Callers who dial 522-0605 (any time through Feb. 17) will hear recorded stories from people who were displaced by construction -- they can also leave messages describing their own experiences on the system. As part of the installation, callers can also dial up pay phones in the area and have a conversation with live performers playing characters drawn from the stories of former residents. Live events and calls within the 415 area are free. Performances begin at noon (and continue on various days through Feb. 15) at the Yerba Buena Redevelopment Zone, between Mission & Folsom and Third & Fourth streets, S.F.
Gates' Way Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. does it for the kids in a lecture at "Lift Every Voice," which benefits the free after-school tutoring program Back on Track. Gates, an African-American oral and literary tradition scholar, is the author of Colored People: A Memoir and The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. He'll speak on "Race and Class in America" at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El, Lake & Arguello, S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 392-4400.
Kids & Plays The Magic Theater's Young California Writers Project began four years back with an intriguing premise, and is on its way to becoming local theatrical tradition. The idea was this: High school students attend and discuss professional plays, take a playwriting workshop, write their own works, and see their visions realized in staged readings by professional actors and directors. Broadway's future is now enrolled at Oakland Tech and Castlemont high schools. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. (also on Wednesday) at the Magic Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is free; call 441-8001.