Eat to the Beat More recreational eating opportunities, with great music and stuff to look at: Picnickers can spread out on the lawn as sopranos Janice Watson (this season's Arabella) and Susannah Glanville (Blanche in the upcoming A Streetcar Named Desire) sing arias throughout the afternoon at Opera in the Park, joined by baritones Rodney Gilfry and Franz Grundheber, among others. Donald Runnicles conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra at the concert, which begins at 1:30 p.m. in Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free; call 777-7770. On the other end of the musical scale, local rockabilly bands Blazing Haley and Rockin' Lloyd Trip & Zip Guns play the "Bottom of the Hill Barbecue and Hot Rod Car Show," with San Diego headliners Hot Rod Lincoln, a Deadbolt-like combo booked to play Slim's Greaseball festival next month. BOTH doorman Juito Brennan organized the hot rod event, which is expected to draw 30 to 60 souped-up autos and vintage bikes. The all-you-can-eat barbecue begins at 4 p.m. -- bands go on at 5:30 p.m. -- at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $5; call 621-4455.
African Head Charge Soukous singer Papa Wemba stars in La Vie Est Belle/Life Is Rosy, a rags-to-riches story about a Congo country musician; in Rocking Popenguine, rival circles of 1960s Senegalese youth pledge their allegiances to French and American pop culture; Dakan, a Guinean film about two male students who fall in love, is the first feature from sub-Saharan Africa to deal with homosexuality. These and 20 other films unspool through late October as the Pacific Film Archive celebrates California Newsreel's 30 years of breakthrough film distribution with recent selections from its Library of African Cinema. The series opens at 7 p.m. tonight with Taafe Fanga, a comic and poignant film from Mali in which male and female villagers exchange roles. All screenings take place in the PFA's George Gund Theater, Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant, Berkeley. Admission is $6 for a single film, $7.50 for a double bill; call (510) 642-1412 for schedule information.
Buddhist Trappings Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker has inspired writers with novels like The Color Purple and activists with her nonfiction tome Anything We Love Can Be Saved -- but who inspires Walker? Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, for one. Walker has spoken glowingly of Chodron's teachings, which focus on the finer points of kindness; Chodron's own books, like Start Where You Are, present her perspective in depth. Among the subjects the pair are expected to discuss during an onstage conversation benefiting Buddhist group Shambhala International are Walker's first novel in six years, By the Light of My Father's Smile, and Chodron's primer When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, which the authors will autograph after the talk. It begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, 3301 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is $25-75; call 392-4400. Meanwhile, Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns and the Dalai Llama offer commentary in Free Tibet, a feature-length documentary of the Tibetan Freedom Concert held in Golden Gate Park two summers ago. Between sets from the Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, the Fugees, Pavement, Beck, and the Beastie Boys (whose Adam Yauch spearheaded the concert to benefit the Milarepa Fund), the film fills in the blanks on Tibetan history and the fundamentals of Buddhism. The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Bridge Theater, 3010 Geary (at Blake), S.F. Admission is $7.50 (proceeds go to the Milarepa Fund); call 352-0810.
This One Goes Up to 5 He's a ladies' man, that Lenny Kravitz. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant may have opened for him and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash may have backed him up, but that's about as far as Kravitz's macho cred extends: After that, it's fields of daisies, faux fur collars, and big ol' velveteen flares. For every Hendrix-inspired wah-wah guitar solo and Curtis Mayfield hard-knock soul styling, Kravitz offers a breathy, tremulous ballad about standing by his woman or letting love rule, and let's face it, that's girl stuff. Kravitz slays 'em again with a birthday song to his daughter and an ode to his late mother on 5, his fifth release in nearly twice as many years. It's all fleshed out with female backup singers, horns, digital loops and samples, and old-fashioned Heineken-bottle percussion -- and he'll need all that if he doesn't want to be upstaged by the danceable Afro-Cuban/hip-hop hybrid of his opening act, L.A. party band Ozomatli. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley Community Theater, 1930 Allston (at Grove), Berkeley. Admission is $27.50; call (510) 644-8957.
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