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Night + Day 

Wednesday, Jul 1 1998
July 1
Driver's Seat All Oxford's Swervedriver needs is for someone to love them properly. The record labels didn't -- they've been dumped by three, including majors like A&M and Geffen. Between early '90s manias for dream pop and Seattle sludge, the band's swirly, guitar-driven psychedelia and blasts of fuzz and feedback didn't make the imprint the group had hoped for when it released 1991's Raise and 1993's crushing Mezcal Head. The unfortunately titled follow-up for British label Creation, Ejector Seat Reservation, turned down the noise and channeled the quartet's energies into a poppier sound that drew comparisons to the early '60s melodies of the Who (whose songs the band has covered), but it wasn't enough to keep Swervedriver signed. New York indie Zero Hour was the next bidder and has released this year's 99th Dream, on which acoustic finger-picking, electric space rock, and the loopy strains of mellotron peacefully coexist. Hugh opens the show at 9 p.m., followed by Spoon, at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Harrison), S.F. Admission is $12; call 522-0333.

July 2
Look! Up There in the Sky! A strip of Highway 280 near Bayshore Boulevard will be attacked by fighter jets at twilight for the next three days, so commuters should plan accordingly. Artist Robert Catalusci's multimedia installation Promotion to Glory, an 18-foot by 23-foot billboard perched on the roof of the Metrae Arts gallery, will broadcast footage of military jets advancing over the industrial landscape toward motorists, accompanied by a synchronized soundtrack blaring the whine and roar of powerful engines. This project, meant to evoke the confusion and fear of wartime, isn't Catalusci's first effort involving transportation; he is concurrently working with architects and painters on a remodeling project for the S.F. Municipal Railway building at 700 Pennsylvania, slated to open in September 1999 and visible from 280 as well. Promotion opens with a reception at 8:30 p.m. (and runs from dusk to 11 p.m. through July 4) at Metrae Arts, 2027 Oakdale (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 822-3007.

Granny a Go-Go Producer/editor Mary Patton balances the high-minded with the fun-loving and the downright ridiculous in "Riot GRRRandmas!," a program of video shorts with a Sapphic sensibility. Irish drag kings do excruciating ZZ Top impersonations in Margaret O'Flanagan and Judith Kinsella's The ZZlezbians in Concert, while the Jeanine Olsson/Danielle Sawicki short Dollywood or Bust, which is similarly propelled by a music icon fetish, follows two young dykes as they travel to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in search of their honky-tonk heroine. The lesbian-history portion of the program contains interviews with Ruth Ellis, dubbed the "oldest known living African-American lesbian," and Persistent Desire author Joan Nestle, founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. Rounding out the bill are An Evening With Sappho Socialites (a.k.a. Sons of Sappho), a collection of excerpts from the 1995 documentary about a decades-old women's social club on Chicago's South Side, and Judy and Callucci's 15th Anniversary, about a party at a country-western bar. The screening begins at 8 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890.

July 3
That Other Musical Hayden "It's like this is my living room," declared Canadian singer/songwriter Hayden from his solo perch when he played Neil Young's Bridge School benefit two years back. He wasn't referring to the venue itself -- the yawning Shoreline Amphitheater -- so much as the acoustic format, which perfectly suited his folkie storytelling style, and to the company he was in, including Patti Smith and Young, a fellow Canadian. Hayden's album The Closer I Get is the second to be released on the Geffen subsidiary label Outpost (run by R.E.M./Nirvana producer Scott Litt and Smashing Pumpkins manager Andy Gershon) following a major-label bidding war that the self-effacing singer claims took him by surprise. Closer is marked by the mournful, weary tone of a man who's been thinking hard, with quavery admissions that trail off into whispers. It's more Lou Barlow than Neil Young, even the assertive entries like "The Hazards of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees," which bursts into full pop attack mode. Action Slacks open for Hayden and his band, who follow up their Fleadh appearance with a show that begins at 9 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), S.F. Admission is $10; call 474-0365.

Death Row Drama Composer Carla Lucero's opera-in-progress Wuornos is a fairly literal musical account of Aileen Wuornos' life, beginning with the media circus that surrounded her trial. Wuornos, currently a death-row inmate in southern Florida, is a former prostitute convicted of six murders, all involving former johns whom she claims to have killed in self-defense. Wuornos was dubbed a "lesbian serial killer" for her crimes, although self-defense isn't typically an issue in serial killer cases. The trial, which included testimony on Wuornos' childhood abuse, struck a nerve among child and prostitution advocates, feminists, lesbians, and activists on both sides of the death penalty: In researching materials for the opera, Lucero found biased accounts from all camps, although she says filmmaker Nick Broomfield's documentary Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer actually presented a balanced version of Wuornos' life. As with other composers who've made opera from headline news -- think Harvey Milk -- Lucero has been accused of exploiting tragic circumstances, but audiences will have the opportunity to sift through the issues after the performance, as Lucero, Brava! Executive Director Ellen Gavin, S.F. Opera Carmen director Sandra Burnhard, and Wuornos director Kim Porter speak at a post-show panel discussion. The opera, featuring singers from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, begins at 8:30 p.m. at Brava! Theater Center, 2789 24th St. (at York), S.F. Admission is a $10 donation; call 554-0402.

You Put a Spell on Me Professional hypnotist Jack Louchlin claims to hold a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, but he's forgone private practice in favor of the cruise ship-casino-comedy club circuit frequented by "hip hypnotist" Pat Collins and that ilk. Ominously nicknamed "The Director of Fun," Louchlin hypnotizes a handful of willing volunteers at each of his shows and then "directs" them to do things that many of them probably wouldn't do if they weren't under his influence. He's made grown men believe they were nine months pregnant, and has orchestrated shoe-swapping, exotic-dancing, mock pot-smoking shenanigans punctuated by his own showmanlike banter. The drill is simple: Following his introduction, Louchlin asks for volunteers, who emerge from the audience and testify that they're not actors or paid plants, after which Louchlin performs his so-called "mass rapid induction" and tests the depth of his subjects' trances by asking them to complete basic tasks. Louchlin demonstrates the power of suggestion, or at the very least, his ability to channel extroverts, at a show beginning at 10 p.m. (and continuing Fridays throughout July) at Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint, 3583 16th St. (at Market), S.F. Admission is $10; call 861-7933.

July 4
And You, and You, and Even You Were There Judy Garland's old pal Mickey Rooney is, well, still alive for one thing, and for another, stars in the touring theatrical production of Garland's most famous vehicle, The Wizard of Oz. Rooney plays the Wizard to singer/actress/septuagenarian vixen Eartha Kitt's Wicked Witch of the West in this 90-minute adaptation of the 1939 film. Madison Square Garden Productions created the piece, which debuted last year in New York with Roseanne Barr as the Wicked Witch, a bit of casting that plenty of former Roseanne scriptwriters must have found painfully ironic. Like the film, the musical theater show begins in a black-and-white setting and explodes into color when Dorothy, played by 16-year-old Jessica Grove, steps out of her twister-wracked farmhouse into Munchkinland. Oz opens at 2 p.m. (and continues through July 26) at the Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is $24-56.50; call 776-1999.

July 5
Warped -- Woof! There are so many attractions competing for attention on the Vans Warped Tour that concertgoers may find themselves pulled in 10 different directions during any given hour. Besides the independent film tent, the skating showdowns on vert ramps and half-pipes, and the Warped Mural Project, there's the Ladies' Lounge, which features skate and snowboard betty paraphernalia like magazines and music and which hosts appearances by professional women boarders and skaters. The bands themselves fall generally in the skate-surf-ska-hip-hop orbit, and California is represented both in the show's beach vibe and in person, by the Mad Caddies, East Bay punks Rancid, and L.A.'s Ozomatli, whose infectious Latin hip-hop and funk blend ought to be one of the most danceable sets of the day. Bad Religion, NOFX, and funk band-turned-swing act the Cherry Poppin' Daddies share headlining duties, while original skameisters the Specials and Spain's Def Con Dos offer international variations on the theme. The show begins at 11 a.m. at Pier 30/32, Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is $20.25 (which works out to roughly a dollar per band); call (510) 762-2277.

July 6
Ray of Light Working in everything from oil to paper collage to iris prints, artist Rex Ray presents a consistent body of work with a pop-y, modernist edge. His imagery is based largely on the vocabulary of text and image in contemporary print media. The tips of exclamation points meet the tips of a thought bubble; the dot of an exclamation point is repeated into a texturally rich visual pattern. Although Ray's magazine collage paintings are sometimes too literal, his bright orange, red, and chalky mint-green oil paintings have a richer, more instinctive feel to them. For this exhibit, Ray also created an edition of book-size iris prints that virtually celebrate an intergalactic luminating vibrancy. An exhibit of Ray's work is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (through July 17) at Gallery 16, 1616 16th St. (at Kansas), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-7495. (Marcy Freedman)

July 7
See Jane Long before she was dressing Nicole Kidman in 19th-century collars and bustles in The Portrait of a Lady, and stripping Harvey Keitel of his clothes altogether in The Piano, Jane Campion was directing lesser-known leads in the short film medium. A collection of Campion's shorts screens tonight at El Rio's independent movie program "Outdoor Cinema," held the first Tuesday of the month in the bar's open-air courtyard, where viewers can pull up a beer and a section of carpet and take in unusual films under the night sky. Local filmmakers Kim Hawkins and Xandra Castleton, who produce the series, have compiled a program of 1984 works that predate even the psychosis-heavy black comedy Sweetie and the Janet Frame story An Angel at My Table, but offer flashes of the same dark humor and Campion's celebrated talent for arresting visuals. Selections include A Girl's Own Story, a portrait of Beatlemaniac girlhood; Peel, about one family's hellacious car ride; After Hours (no relation to the later Scorsese film of the same name), a drama revolving around sexual harassment in an office; and Passionless Moments, a Monty Python-like collection of vignettes about private instances, with titles like "Angela Eats Meats." The show begins at 8:30 p.m. at El Rio, 3158 Mission (at Precita), S.F. Admission is $5; call (510) 653-5171.

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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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