Fest Bets It'd be bigger news if there wasn't a festival in the area, but that probably won't happen until Christmas, which leaves us with a slew of options to choose from. The California Indian Festival offers performances by Aztec, Intertribal, and Hawaiian dance groups, along with arts and crafts, food, and activities like the Indian fastpitch softball tournament. Themed "camps" dominate the Oakland Gay Mardi Gras Block Party: These include the family-friendly "Hometown U.S.A.," with its root beer stands and street performers; the kitschy "Queensland," a forest of love beads and an AstroTurf garden planted with giant Day-Glo flowers, hair curlers, and lipstick; and "Butch Garden," a dance palace for disco, rock, and new wave, designed with Mad Max in mind. A costumed Signorina Spaghetti greets guests at the Italian Festa, a two-day affair packed with pasta and polenta, cultural exhibits, live Italian entertainment, an Italian Farmers Market, and kids activities, all sponsored by your friends at Gallo Salame. And finally, the Outdoor Arts Festival features live music and arts and crafts by over 200 artists. The Indian Festival begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Fort Winfield Scott Parade Grounds, the Presidio, S.F. Admission is free; call 561-3992. Mardi Gras begins at noon in Preservation Park, Clay between 12th and 14th streets in the city center, Oakland. Admission is $4-7; call (510) 548-8283. The Italian Festa begins at 11 a.m. (and on Sunday at 10 a.m.) in Jack London Square, Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 814-6000. (Also, the Leonard Rossi Trio plays the Festa's Ballo Notturno Sotto Le Stelle at 7:30 p.m. tonight.) The Outdoor Arts Festival opens at 10 a.m. on Beach between Hyde and Larkin, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-2559.
Surrender? OK Cheap Trick qualifies as epic, for the legions of bands it launched with its infectious brand of Midwestern bubble-gum rock; for the sound of thousands of teen-age girls screaming ecstatically at twin heartthrobs Tom Petersson and Robin Zander on the album Live at Budokan; for the harmonies in "Surrender" and the hooks in "I Want You to Want Me," which, along with "Heaven Tonight," evoke sticky-sweet memories of make-out sessions and arena parking lot escapades for a huge chunk of the 25-and-older crowd. If the old songs don't take you back at this show, the scalpers out front just might. Cry of Love open at 8 p.m. at the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St. (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is $20; call 437-4446.
High in Fiber Gold Rush-era quilts and religious vestments from California's Mission period are woven into the crazy quilt of creations in "The Fabric of Life: 150 Years of Northern California Fiber Art History." The exhibit, which comprises work by over 100 artists, demonstrates the practical side of textiles along with the cultural, like the Hmong story cloth, and the political, like the Peace Ribbon (Around the Pentagon). Quilter Rosie Lee Thompkins, Bauhaus-influenced weaver Trude Guermonprez, and tapestry-makers Jean Pierre Larochette and Yael Lurie, meanwhile, focus on textile as contemporary art. The show opens with a reception at 2 p.m. (and is up through Oct. 18) at the Art Department Gallery, Arts and Industry Building, 1600 Holloway, SFSU campus. Admission is free; call 338-6535.
One, Two, Cha-Cha-Cha One thing that the otherwise amusing and illuminating ballroom dance movies Strictly Ballroom and Shall We Dance? don't cover is the scrutineer, whose job is not to stare down contestants, as the title might suggest, but to tally up the judges' scores. Ava Kaye will serve as scrutineer at the City Lights Ball, a pro/am dance showcase and competition with dozens of Bay Area competitors. When spectators aren't oohing and aahing over the showcase dance by defending U.S. Latin champions Bob Powers and Julia Gorchakova, they will be awwing over contestants in the under-7 category. The event, held in honor of National Ballroom Dance Week, is split into day and evening sessions, with all ages and skill levels testing their mettle on samba, rumba, tango, quickstep, and other dances. Social dancing will also be held throughout the day and evening sessions. It all begins at 10 a.m. at the Metronome Ballroom, 1830 17th St. (at De Haro), S.F. Admission is $5-32; call 681-9083.
Adult Books Last year it was Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. This year's most absurd designee on the national list of banned books has got to be Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic, which was blackballed apparently due to one particularly threatening passage that encouraged children to break dishes instead of wash them. The S.F. Public Library celebrates Banned Books Week with "Censored: Soapbox Readings From Banned Books." Howard Junker, editor of local literary magazine Zyzzyva, will be leading librarians, teens, personalities like Live 105's Johnny Steele and West Coast Live host Sedge Thompson, and local writers including novelists Po Bronson and Donna Levin, Chronicle columnist Adair Lara, and poet Jewelle Gomez in reading selections from censored fiction, poetry, and prose. Bronson will read from Upton Sinclair's Oil, which made the list for its reference to birth control, and Levin will take up the perennially controversial Catcher in the Rye. To find out which of your favorite works have been challenged or banned, check out the American Library Association's Web site at www.ala.org/bbooks. The reading begins at noon on the Larkin Street steps of the New Main Library, 100 Larkin (at Market), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4277.