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Wednesday, Oct 15 1997
october 15
Yes, But Is It Art? Nearly two weeks ago, 60 Minutes made the startling discovery that there's some bad modern art out there; between assertions that modern art isn't like classical art and that modern art makes people go ballistic, good modern art went entirely unmentioned. Viewers can only hope for a smarter approach when the Vector Theater Company, a collaboration of local theater veterans like Wilma Bonet and Gerald Hiken, stages Tina Howe's Museum, a loving parody of the contemporary art scene. The Village Voice and the New York Times, which have each seen modern art debated at length in their pages, lauded the way Museum reframes the discussion among students, guards, critics, art lovers, vandals, and French people attending the last day of a controversial exhibit at a modern art museum. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 15) at the 450 Geary Studio Theater, 450 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $20; call 421-2882.

Are We Having Fun Yet? Bill Griffith's enigmatic, epigrammatic Zippy the Pinhead makes perfect sense after viewing John O'Hagan's documentary Wonderland, which played this year's S.F. International Film Festival. Wonderland is about Levittown, N.Y., America's first postwar suburb and Griffith's hometown. "It was like we were all acting in a TV sitcom," Griffith says in the film, describing the subversive weirdness that pervaded the "planned community," and that's what Zippy is like, too, with its off-kilter use of vivid color, cheerful sloganeering, and frequent commercial and pop-culture references. More than 100 of Griffith's pen-and-ink and color drawings will hang at "Zippy and Beyond: A Pinhead's Progress -- The Bill Griffith Retrospective," which includes work from Young Lust, National Lampoon, High Times, and The New Yorker, alongside stories and cover art and a sneak preview of character studies for an animated Zippy TV series now in development. The exhibit opens at 11 a.m. (and is up through Feb. 22, 1998) at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission (at Fourth Street), S.F. Admission is free-$4; call CAR-TOON.

october 16
Love Hurts As the Back Stabbing Machine makes clear at the interactive robot spectacle Violent Machines Perform Acts of Love, you never know when romance will sneak up on you. Art-tech collective Seemen will unveil this scary little number as well as the Kissing/Headbutting Couple, the Fucking Farmhands, and the Buttfucking Couple, plus contraptions geared more toward singles, like the Suicide Chair, the Beer Bottle Thrower, and the Robotic Pit Bulls. Seemen founder Kal Spelletich will be guiding viewers from machine to machine, giving people the chance to explore each one and reflect on their own love lives, and likewise giving each machine the chance to damage viewers, psychologically and otherwise. The show starts at 10 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 25) at the Lab, 2948 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $7-10; call 864-8855.

october 17
Child's Play There's an old knock-knock joke that pertains to Les Enfants Terribles: Children of the Game, and it goes like this: Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there?/ Knock, knock/ Who's there? Philip Glass. Said composer, whose distinctive and challenging work includes the epic opera Einstein on the Beach and the scores for Powaqqatsi and Koyaanisqatsi, has collaborated with choreographer Susan Marshall on a dance-opera version of French poet Jean Cocteau's 1929 novel Les Enfants Terribles, an ever-so-surreal tale of teen-age siblings whose imaginary world eclipses their perception of the real one. The two live and one late collaborators are accustomed to innovative interdisciplinary work; dancegoers will recall Marshall's theatrical, acrobatic piece The Kiss, wherein she suspended a pair of lovers in harnesses hung from the ceiling, while this is Cocteau's second fling with the dance world; the first was his story for the 1917 ballet Parade. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday), preceded by a discussion with Glass at 7 p.m. (tonight only), at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $22-40; call (510) 642-9988.

Mug Shot Brace yourself for photos like the one of Ruth Snyder being electrocuted in 1928 (in a dress, no less), in "Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence," a group show that is as gruesome as it is fascinating. In documentary style similar to that of past SFMOMA exhibits "Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West 1849 to the Present" and "Dorothea Lange: American Photographs," this exhibit attempts to place in historical context the use of photography and art in criminal cases, with shots by several well-known photographers like Jacob Riis and Weegee, along with work by law enforcement officers and unidentified artists. There are mug shots and wanted posters, crime scene and surveillance camera photography, drawn from state and federal archives, prison records, libraries, and private collections. Amid the colorful array of petty criminals, gangsters, and corpses, there are some startling bits of information, such as the 19th-century theory that a person's facial features reveal his character. "Police Pictures" opens at 11 a.m. at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$7.50; call 357-4000.

october 18
Keeping You Abreast You'll have to hunt for the 4-foot-wide, helium-filled latex breasts amid the throng of photographers at the National Breast Cancer Bra Tapestry event, but they'll be there, hovering above the crowd, draped with a tapestry of bras that spectators will have donated and tied onto the tapestry themselves in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Conceptual artist Nicolino launches his Bras Across the Grand Canyon project with this event, which is intended to draw attention to the thousands of American women who die from breast cancer every year. The day, which will also feature breast self-examination information and a demonstration on how to take off a bra without disrobing, begins at 10 a.m. (at 3 p.m. the launching of the breasts will occur) in Justin Herman Plaza, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call (510) 237-3939. And while you're at the waterfront, check out I'm San Francisco's Main Squeeze, an accordion contest featuring 10 bands and beginning at 11 a.m. (also Sunday) at the Anchorage, Fisherman's Wharf, S.F. Admission is free; call 775-6000.

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Heather Wisner


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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