february 12
Crack, Baby "Dark Alliance," San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb's three-part investigative series on the CIA-crack connection, was contentious enough to generate a flurry of conspiracy theories, journalistic debate, and its own Website since its publication last August. Working off a tip, Webb traced California's crack trade through L.A. gangs and South Central drug dealer Rick Ross to CIA-backed Nicaraguan contras and drug runners. Webb discusses the events that unfolded during his pursuit of the tale in "The Big Crack, Contras, and the California Connection," a lecture beginning at noon in Conlan Hall, Room 101, City College, 50 Phelan, S.F. Admission is free; call 239-3580.

Poets Going South "Convoy" joins the lexicon of poetry when members of the '95 and '96 San Francisco Poetry Slam Teams and various assorted others present "Point-Us-in-the-Direction-of-Albuquerque-Palooza." This collection of local spoken-word all-stars, including Horehound Stillpoint, Justin Chin, Beth Lisick, Hank Hyena, and Bucky Sinister, will read to raise money for the cheap beer and motel rooms they'll be needing en route to the Albuquerque Poetry Festival. Audiences who support the home team may also win loot like zines, CDs, tapes, and books at an accompanying raffle. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $8-29.95; call 552-6542.

Kickoff Time Australian choreographer Stanton Welch created his first-ever ballet for an American dance company, Maninyas, for the San Francisco Ballet, which returns the favor by opening their '97 season with it. Highlights of the company's six programs include Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes and Pacific, ensemble pieces by modern dance's musical maverick Mark Morris (Programs III and II, respectively); Paul Taylor's Sunset (Program VI), local and world premieres like Sergeant Early's Dream by Ballet Rambert's Christopher Bruce, and revivals of three Balanchine works under the adept direction of SFB Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson, a former Balanchine dancer who understands full well the speed and lyricism the late choreographer's work requires. Program I, which also features Four Last Songs and Western Symphony, begins at 8 p.m. (and continues through March 1) at Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is $35-85; call 865-2000.

february 13
The Deal of the Art The search for Chinese snuff bottles finally ends this weekend at the Arts of Pacific Asia, a local show and sale. International galleries and dealers converge here, bearing pre-1940s art and artifacts of various Pacific Asian regions, from intricate Hmong weaving to Burmese Buddhist sculptures, Korean ceramics, and Japanese weapons. The event begins with a preview benefiting the Asian Art Museum and featuring entertainment, a buffet, and live and silent auctions at 5 p.m. (admission is $75-125); regular show times are Friday through Sunday at 11 a.m and lasting all day. All events are held in the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, S.F. General admission is $10; call 557-6990.

Con Artist Israeli secret service agent Peter Malkin, an accomplished painter, relied on personal experience when he posed as an artist for an operation designed to nab former Austrian Nazi operative Adolf Eichmann. Malkin and his colleagues from Israel's Mossad agency went undercover in Buenos Aires in 1960, where they captured Eichmann, who'd lived there under an alias since fleeing Germany in 1946. Malkin helped bring Eichmann down with his martial-arts training, and applied his talent with paints to makeup artistry, disguising Eichmann so that the agents could smuggle him out of the country to Israel, where he was later tried and hanged for war crimes. Malkin reflects on his career when a local exhibit of his paintings and prints opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by Malkin's short talk at 7:30 p.m. (He gives a complete lecture Sunday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m.) at Vorpal Gallery, 393 Grove, S.F. Admission is free; call 397-9200.

Out on a Limb Rarely is a costume so integral to a work as it is to Sha Sha Higby's work. Higby's detailed "costume sculptures" are made from wood, paper, silk, lacquer, ceramics, and gold leaf, costumes that take hours to create and put on, and that give sound and hue to her style of solo dance theater, an amalgam of Eastern and Western traditions. Higby has performed and studied textiles and theater arts throughout the world, and will translate her experience by teaching mask and movement workshops this Saturday and Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and performing Tea on a Twig, a meditative movement piece with sets by artist Sherry Petrini, tonight at 8 p.m. (also Friday through Sunday) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $6.50-16.50; call 621-7797.

Ages and Stages An actress afraid of aging finds herself channeling the spirits of a dauntless senior, an angry teen, a gay man, and a Jewish vaudevillian in Old, Jewish, and Queer, Naomi Newman's one-woman musical theater piece. Using original songs and Yiddish and Hebrew dialogue, Newman, a founding member of A Traveling Jewish Theater, guides her character(s) through the inevitable life-and-death considerations of encroaching maturity. Teryl Saunders provides live musical accompaniment. The show begins with a preview at 8 p.m. (previews continue through Feb. 23; the show opens Feb. 24 and runs through March 23) at A Traveling Jewish Theater, 2800 Mariposa, S.F. Admission is $16; call 399-1809.

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