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Night + Day 

Wednesday, Sep 23 1998
September 23
Still the One Some writers would prefer to be poked with sharp sticks than suffer through the public agony of performing their work live. That's one reason they're writers, not actors. Then again, there are writers like Spalding Gray or Eric Bogosian who find that the best way to interpret their material is to step out onstage and do it themselves. Both men have been guests of the Solo Mio Festival, which opens its ninth year of solo performances with the "Best of Writers Who Act." That's where emerging artists, coached by writer/performer Anne Galjour, test their writing and stage craft by performing new work for an audience. Sean San Jose, meanwhile, has had lots of performance experience since he began staging Pieces of the Quilt at libraries, schools, and clinics. The original Pieces was a theatrical patchwork with contributions written by Tony Kushner, Edward Albee, and others. Pieces Part II featured selections by Octavio Solis and Erin Cressida Wilson. In Part III, running this Thursday through Saturday, Digital Underground's DJ Fuze, percussionist Josh Jones, and singer Scheherazade Stone add music to the short AIDS-related works. Scottish performer Diane Torr, coiner of the term "drag king," transforms herself in Drag Kings and Subjects, a piece using text and film to invoke the history of cross-dressing (Sept. 30-Oct. 3), and Brenda Wong Aoki offers a personal take on anti-Asian miscegenation laws, Uncle Gunjiro's Girlfriend (Oct. 10-11). Solo Mio opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. with "Best of Writers Who Act" at the Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason, Building B, Third Floor, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $8-10; call 392-4400 for tickets and schedule information.

September 24
Feel the Earth Move Before a lone dancer initiates the chain reaction of slippage, stasis, and resistance in the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company's piece Fault, and even before the work slides from the idea of geologic fault lines into the idea of fault in human relationships, viewers can find rumblings of something at a performance installation where Jenkins herself dances with co-conspirators from seasons past. To celebrate the company's 25th anniversary and the San Francisco premiere of Fault, which debuted in Berkeley to critical and public acclaim, designer Tom Bonauro has created a series of 3- to 12-foot-high platforms. Musician Paul Dresher and performer Rinde Eckert will present excerpts from Shelf Life on one, while later Eckert and Jenkins perform part of And So They on another. A video clip of a speaking and gesturing Olympia Dukakis, with whom Jenkins worked on the ACT piece Hecuba, rounds out the installation, as Jenkins performs part of Time After, a forthcoming piece created in collaboration with Dukakis. The evening begins with the performance installation at 7:15 p.m. (also Friday) in the Yerba Buena Center Forum, followed by the show at 8 p.m. (also Friday and Saturday) in the Yerba Buena Center Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $12.50-25 (Fault ticket-holders get free admission to the installation); call 978-ARTS.

First Tapes From a Nov. 29, 1963, phone conversation between President Lyndon Johnson and then-Congressman Gerald Ford: LBJ: "Happy Thanksgiving! Where are you?" Ford: "I'm home, sir." LBJ: "You mean Michigan?" Ford: "No, no I'm here in Washington." LBJ: "Thank God there's somebody in town!" That's one of the lighter exchanges detailed in Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964, an exhaustive but engaging transcript of Johnson's administrative phone calls, compiled and annotated by historian Michael Beschloss. Johnson was the first president to have his own calls taped so extensively, and Beschloss, a contributing writer to the Washington Post, has capitalized on the material, offering an insider's look at the day-to-day machinations of presidential politics. Between Beschloss' contextual notes and the actual conversations -- with the Kennedys, J. Edgar Hoover, Martin Luther King, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, to name a few -- we see Johnson wheedling favors, mulling over the idea that Castro had a hand in JFK's assassination, and fretting that the war in Vietnam couldn't be won. Former Oakland A's manager Roy Eisenhardt interviews Beschloss about his books and the role of certain other taped phone calls in modern politics beginning at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $17; call 392-4400.

Lone Stars A short-lived but significant Texan invasion begins tonight with El Diablo's appearance at "Stinky's Peepshow," and continues tomorrow night with Reverend Horton Heat's Fillmore show. El Diablo members have been instrumental in helping Heat spread the rockabilly gospel: ED's Taz, of the now-defunct Tenderloin, was Heat's drummer once, and the guitar- and bass-playing Blair brothers Toby and Doni toured with Heat as part of the Dallas-based foursome Hagfish. But unlike Heat, whose half-dozen albums get their kick from stand-up slap-bass and the searing Gibson/Gretsch guitars of rockabilly and country swing, El Diablo is the kind of outfit that crams three short, fast, rowdy punk songs onto a 45, and then they're out. Seattle's Bell, followed by the local punk quartet Ain't, open for El Diablo at 10 p.m. tonight at the CW Saloon, 917 Folsom (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 974-1585. REO Speedealer (who, thanks to REO Speedwagon's legal counsel, are about to shorten their name to just plain Speedealer -- see House of Tudor for more, Page 60), open for Reverend Horton Heat at 9 p.m. Friday at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore), S.F. Admission is $15; call 346-6000.

September 26
Death Takes a Holiday New Yorker readers may remember director Michael Blakemore's harrowing account of staging the one-act play collection "Death Defying Acts," an essentially death-defying undertaking that was continually hindered by the cast, the backers, and the playwrights (Elaine May, Woody Allen, and David Mamet), all of whom needed lots of personal attention during development. Blakemore, and the off-Broadway production itself, survived that theatrical trial by fire, and "Acts" will make its West Coast debut in the Aurora Theater Company's seventh season opener. Director Tom Ross (who has produced seven Solo Mio festivals and directed A Karen Carpenter Christmas, among other productions) takes Blakemore's place, running actors like Lucinda Hitchcock Cone and Warren Keith through the bitterly comic death-themed dramas. Allen's Central Park West offers the standard adulterous affairs and shrink jokes, while May's abrasive Hotline concerns a suicidal prostitute whose problems stump the novice hot line operator who answers her call for help. In Mamet's An Interview, a sleazy lawyer must defend his profession, and by extension, his life. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 1) at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Dana), Berkeley. Admission is $20-25; call (510) 843-4822.

September 26
Music Men While the San Francisco Opera celebrates the opening of its 76th season with the newly commissioned opera A Streetcar Named Desire, the Gay Men's Chorus is celebrating its 20th with the newly commissioned choral work Q. It's been two decades since the chorus' very public debut on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall, where the formerly informal group of music lovers congregated to sing in honor of slain city officials George Moscone and Harvey Milk. The show begins at 8 p.m. tonight at Davies Symphony Hall, Grove & Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $10-50; call 864-6000. The following day, Streetcar conductor Sir Andre Previn reprises the symphony's opening night gala with "We Got Rhythm: George Gershwin Centennial Celebration," in which he and bassist David Finck do Gershwin hits for a concert benefiting the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Ira and Lenore S. Gershwin Theater, Turk & Masonic, USF campus. Admission is $35-75; call 487-3060.

September 27
All's Fair More than the Haight Street Fair, which has become gradually indistinguishable from the city's scores of neighborhood block parties; more than Halloween and Carnaval, which are hugely popular in several other cities; more, even, than its bigger but less kinky cousin the Gay Pride Parade, the Folsom Street Fair says "San Francisco." It does so with the city's language of community, offering a vivid cross-section of lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, straight, leather-S/M, and fetish folks. It confirms the cheerfully unabashed hedonism that the East Coast and the Bible Belt have always suspected of Californians. It's where the city's reputation for sexual openness and creativity manifests itself in the hairy, welt-covered back of a bearish man in chaps all the way down to a little plastic Ken doll done up in a miniature kilt and tiny leather restraints. Enrique, Black Kali Ma, Most Chill Slack Mob, and several other groups entertain throughout the day at the fair, which begins at 11 a.m. on Folsom between Seventh and 12th streets, S.F. Admission is free-donation; call 861-3247.

September 28
Sympathy for the Devils They've been accused of snotty-nosed punkishness, and that's just fine by Seattle's Murder City Devils, who wrote the stinging ode "Get Off the Floor" for today's disaffected clubgoers ("If you're not gonna dance/ Get off the floor/ People like you/ Are what the balcony's made for"). The snarling, short-fused blast of punk's first wave stubbornly reasserts itself in the Devils' brew: distorted guitars, the creepy strains of vintage B-movie Farfisa organ, a boom-chugga-boom backbeat, and the plaster-cracking vocals of singer Spencer Moody, who single-mindedly launches himself into songs with a raw, ragged howl worthy of Scratch Acid-era David Yow. KUSF co-sponsors the live show, which coincides with this week's release of the band's second album Empty Bottles Broken Hearts on the Sub Pop offshoot label Die Young Stay Pretty. The Black Market Babies open at 10 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $5; call 861-5016. (To get an idea of Sub Pop's new musical range, take in Saturday's show with the Spinanes, the former duo turned revolving foursome-or-so, whose sly, melodic storytelling draws listeners the way the Devils offer them cathartic release. Itchy Kitty opens the show at 10 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $8; call 621-4455.)

September 29
Broadway Babies When Chicago's Broadway revival swept last year's Tony Awards, one of the prizes went to choreographer Ann Reinking, a Bob Fosse favorite who stayed true to Fosse's original showy jazz-dance vision (the Fosse biopic All That Jazz echoes the Chicago song "All That Jazz"). The touring production of Chicago is also long on Broadway history: Charlotte d'Amboise, daughter of the former ballet great Jacques and a Tony nominee herself for her role in Jerome Robbins' Broadway, plays Roxie Hart, the showgirl who kills her lover. Brent Barrett plays Billy Flynn, the lawyer who spins public sympathy in Roxie's favor and ultimately gets her acquitted; like the younger d'Amboise and her dad, Barrett also danced for Robbins, making his Broadway debut as Tony in West Side Story. The show offers a bit of real-life history as well: Reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins covered the murder trials of two cabaret singers for the Chicago Tribune and based her 1926 play on their stories. Chicago previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 7) at the Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor (at Market), S.F. Admission is $27-72; call 776-1999.

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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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