A Piece of the Rock Tourists and actors comprise most of the traffic on Alcatraz these days, but not so long ago the Rock was home to infamous cons like Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly, and to regular folk on the penitentiary's payroll, like the family in Tara Ison's first novel, A Child Out of Alcatraz. To create this work of historical fiction, Ison spent five years researching life on the island and the people who came of age there before Attorney General Robert Kennedy shut down the prison in 1963. The narrator of Ison's novel is Olivia, a young girl who grows up on the island in the '50s. The fates of Alcatraz and Olivia's family are inextricably linked: Her father, a law student who takes a job as a prison guard to support his family, becomes trapped in a brutal career, while Olivia's mother, who suffers from a steady mental decline, is stuck in an unhappy marriage and an isolated community. Ison will autograph and discuss the book, including why the National Park Service won't stock it, at 6:30 p.m. in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room of the New Main Library, 100 Larkin (at Market), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4355.
The Pharmacist's Favorite Dead Men We Love playwright Monika Monika spoofs politics, biomedical and otherwise, in her new satire The Pharmacist's Daughter, the twisted comic tale of Becky, a pharmacist's lovely daughter who wants to evade her unusual contract with a biotech company. John, a pharmaceutical rep who has fallen in love with Becky, helps her run away to Brooklyn, but their abrupt departure attracts the attention of a motley cast of characters, including President Clinton, the FBI, and an angry dwarf. Jonathan Moscone directs the world premiere of The Pharmacist's Daughter, which previews at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through Dec. 14) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Northside, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $15-21; call 441-8822.
A Little Latin and Less Greek Long-dead Athenian playwright Aristophanes is revived in Carlos Baron's Liz Estrada, a comic, bilingual adaptation of the ancient political play Lysistrata. The action moves from the pillars of the Acropolis to the barrios of Anglopolis in this modern revision, as a group of women, led by protagonist Liz Estrada, organize a sex strike to protest sexism, violence, and other social ills. Eventually their male acquaintances see the light, and join in the effort to improve their community. Teatro Latino first performed the work, which Baron, an SFSU theater arts department faculty member, wrote in 1981 and will direct here. Music Director Carlos Araiza has contributed original salsa-based compositions to the show, which previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 23) at the McKenna Theater, Creative Arts Building, 1600 Holloway, SFSU campus. Admission is $7-9; call 338-2467.
In Bloom The worldwide party celebrating India's 50th year of independence rolls on with "Naya India/(New India)," two new dance works mixing tradition with pop culture. In Full Blown Lotus, the Kate Foley Company combines the big, splashy dance numbers of Indian musical cinema with yoga, ballet, and modern dance, set to the club music beat of Ricky Fataar's original score, an amalgam of Indian film melodies and hip hop. Guest dancers clad in simple saris perform the South Indian classical dance bharat natyam in the California Contemporary Dancers piece Mala/(Garland), alongside company dancers decorated in flower garlands, which celebrate the presence of ancestors. Mongolian Tuva (throat) singers provide the aural backdrop to this collaborative modern treatment of old themes. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 23) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $12.50-16.50; call 621-7797.
Dodge-Podge Harriet Dodge, whose musically inclined solo performance Muddy Little River won converts and sold out houses during an extended outing at the Lab, tests the solo performance waters again with a work in progress, From Where I'm Sitting (I can only reach your ass). This time Dodge is Frank, a too-patient young fellow whose main talent, if it may be called that, is sitting around waiting for just the right moment to act on his spiritual hunger and conflicting desires. Dodge, the co-founder of coffee shop/performance space the Bearded Lady and a member of country-glam cover band the Dodge Brothers, goes on at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $6-8; call 626-5416.
Tinseltown Trauma Alienated and amoral adults stumble through a boozy, druggy haze searching for identity and meaning -- and sex -- in David Rabe's drama Hurlyburly, which isn't about slackers or Gen-Xers, the Me Generation, or even the Lost Generation. It's about seven characters sharing an apartment in Hollywood in 1984. Pour Boys Productions revives the work, which was originally directed by Mike Nichols at Chicago's Goodman Theater, and featured William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, and Sigourney Weaver. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Dec. 22) at the Actors Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $18; call 567-6088.
As the Millennium ... Oh, Forget It Before there was Smarter Feller!, there was Smart Feller, the SF Weekly strip written by Dave Eggers and Harmon Leon. While Eggers is off in New York trying to whip Esquire into some kind of shape, Leon is at the "Pre-Millennium Comedy Show," where he'll be joined by Comedy Central alum Kurt Weitzmann, Charles Ezell of "Nervous Laughter," and other funny guys in a performance involving video, music, and dancing bears. The "Pre-Millennium Comedy Show" begins at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 22) at the Jewel Theater, 655 Geary (at Leavenworth), S.F. Admission is $6-12; call 567-3005. Ezell and Weitzmann also play the one-night comedy stand "Sex, Drugs, and Shitty Jobs" at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Edinburgh Castle, 950 Geary (at Larkin), S.F. Admission is $5 ($3 for guests who bring in a welfare check stub or a pay stub from a shitty job); call 486-1698.
Gucci, Pucci, Fiorucci If you regularly tune into MTV's House of Style, the TV versions of Clueless and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or E's The Gossip Show, you've wasted precious hours of your life that you will never, ever get back. And during that time, you've seen clothing designed by Joel Fitzpatrick, a marble sculptor who earned an M.F.A. in lighting design from Cal Arts before launching his couturier career in 1992, when he designed and sold anti-George Bush T-shirts from his living room. It was that bright idea, along with Fitzpatrick's hand in igniting the Hush Puppies suede loafer mania, that sealed the financial success of his label, Pleasure Swell, which began as a sportswear line and won him California designer of the year in 1996. With visions of Calvin, Halston, and Studio 54 dancing in his head, and the company's motto ("If it isn't fun, fuck it") ringing in his ears, Fitzpatrick will launch his new line of designer denim in a disco: The "Champagne Dreams and Designer Jeans" show begins at midnight at "Release," 1015 Folsom (at Sixth Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 674-9208.
Cartoon Capers TV won't touch Bob Clampett's 1942 cartoon Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs or Tex Avery's 1947 cartoon Uncle Tom's Cabana for obvious reasons, but both are included in Forbidden Animation, a collection compiled from 60 years of animated works screening at the Red Vic. Cute 'n' cuddly these 'toons ain't: The program includes Vince Collins' 1982 piece Malice in Wonderland, an R-rated remake of the Lewis Carroll story that delves into Alice's sexual fantasies, and Thank You Mask Man, Jeff Hale and John Magnuson's 1968 creation, which illustrates a Lenny Bruce soundtrack bashing homophobic rednecks. Compared to these, the film's opening selection of pre-Hayes Code cartoons, like Betty Boop in bondage, will seem downright tame. Forbidden Animation, curated by SFSU prof and animation historian Karl Cohen, screens at 2, 4, 7:15, and 9:25 p.m. (also Monday at 7:15 and 9:25 p.m.) at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $4.50-6; call 668-3994.
Beth, I Hear You Calling Tuning into a Beth Orton-Grandaddy double bill has got to be like hanging out on the front porch of a desert shack playing a beat-up guitar and watching the UFOs fly by. With Under the Western Freeway, openers Grandaddy offer a variation on the Guided by Voices theme, telling strange tales through a combination of non sequiturs ("Why Took Your Advice"), lingering imagery ("Everything Beautiful Is Far Away"), and a memorable, dusty twang, augmented by electronic noodling and ear-catching effects. Orton, meanwhile, found that Ronnie Spector and the Chemical Brothers could peacefully coexist on her debut album, Trailer Park, which slid a bit of trip hop in between the pop harmonies. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $7-9; call 522-0333.
Sundays on Monday After taking off enough time to have their first child and open their own recording studio, Sundays singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin reconvened the band to write, record, and release Static and Silence, a pretty pop album that sounds much like pre-vacation Sundays. The last time out, the U.K. quartet covered the Stones make-out-party staple "Wild Horses"; this time around, according to Wheeler, they've been listening to lots of Van Morrison, which may have contributed to the ever-so-slightly slower pace, the even more introspective lyrics, and the folky flourishes, like flutes. Otherwise, it's Wheeler's girlish lilt and Gavurin's gentle strumming all over again. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore), S.F. Admission is $20; call 346-6000.
Gumby, Damn It All the little tykes who missed claymation's prehistoric age and its early stars, like Gumby and Pokey, get a second chance at the interactive "Adventure Into Books: Gumby's World," which should at least take their parents and grandparents and childless adult friends way back. Gumby creators and Bay Area residents Art and Gloria Clokey helped design the show, which features the giant walk-in books "Dig the Past" and "Adventures in Space," where kids can dig for artifacts, check out cave paintings, and steer starships around aliens toward imaginary planets. In the "Gumby and Books" section, kids can see the sets and models from the '50s show and learn to create their own books or produce their own short animated film. The exhibit, which inaugurates National Children's Book Week, opens at 9 a.m. (and runs through April 10, 1998) at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, 557 McReynolds, East Fort Baker, Sausalito. Admission is free-$6; call 487-4398.
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