Navel Gazing The Aztec language Nahuatal is a tricky thing for native English speakers to wrap their tongues around, but to Francisco X. Alarcon, it sounds like poetry. Alarcon already writes in English and Spanish, crafting whimsical, moving verse from the natural world in books like his bilingual children's collection Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems, in which first rains cool the landscape and tortillas applaud the sun. Alarcon writes for adults, too, and in the 10 years since he began studying Nahuatal, his poetry has been colored by that third language. His collection Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation is guided by Aztec spells, and his new work, From The Bellybutton of the Moon is inspired by Aztec descriptions of the Mexican countryside. Kash Killion, a veteran of Sun Ra's futuristic jazz orchestra and musical improv whiz who's been dividing his time between cello and Indian sarangi, will help Alarcon find a rhythm to his verse at a live musical spoken-word session hosted by Don Paul's Open Door series. They'll be aided by Paul on percussion, Chaka Khan tourmate Richard Howell on sax, and Broun Fellinis alum Kevin Carnes on trap drums. Sets begin at 10 p.m. and midnight at the Black Cat Cafe, 501 Broadway (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is $5; call 981-2233.
May I Have This Dunce? Today you will not be told that the customer is always right. You will not be expected to act like a team player, to know your party's extension, or to dial it now. Put the collating down: Today is the 21st Annual and Next to Last St. Stupid's Day Parade, an April Fool's Day celebration that hops, skips, and giggles its way through the Financial District, having well-deserved fun at the expense of every stupid business convention it can think of, plus some nonbusiness nonsense as well. (Last year was the last parade, so it follows that this year is the next to last -- make sense? No? Well, never mind.) You and a gaggle of fellow morons, ideally wielding noisemakers and wearing silly costumes, should expect to join in the leap of faith and the sock exchange, a trading floor that posts faster, albeit smellier, gains than the NASDAQ. The parade begins at noon at the Vallincourt Fountain, Justin Herman Plaza, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call (510) 841-1898.
Portrait of the Artists as Women Poverty and crime riddled two of Ireland's most recent cinematic imports, I Went Down and The General; expect some of that at the Magic Theater's Festival of Irish Women Playwrights as well, along with work that spoofs American moviemaking in Ireland. Bloody skirmishes and grim economics are a big part of the Irish landscape and culture, of course; so are foreign stereotypes of Ireland, and the five participating playwrights address all of these candidly in workshop productions and staged readings. Northern Ireland's Marie Jones is well known in the U.K. as both actress and playwright (American audiences may remember her as Daniel Day Lewis' mother from In the Name of the Father); her experiences with Hollywood crews in Ireland led her to write Stones in His Pocket about two hard-luck Irishmen who take parts as extras, then create their own perfect Irish film, which better reflects their lives than the movie they're working on. Paula Meehan's Mrs. Sweeney, a look at ghetto life in Dublin's rough subsidized housing complexes, draws on Celtic legend and Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock. Meanwhile, a Protestant perspective emerges in BBC Radio 3 writer Christina Reid's drama The Belle of Belfast City. Works by Marina Carr and Emma Donoghue round out the first-time festival, which organizers say was inspired by the resurgent American interest in Irish drama and the lack of women's work being staged here. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. with Carr's By the Bog of Cats (and runs through April 11) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$15; call 441-8822.
Flesh for Fantasy Good Friday and the crucifixion of Christ will be observed internationally today with fasting and reconstructed stations of the cross. Except here, where we tend to do things differently from the rest of the world. Feast II feeds into the city's apparently insatiable appetite for fleshy spectacle with a party that tweaks Good Friday rituals almost beyond recognition. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence get their big weekend off to a flaming start (see Sunday) by lighting the candles on their 20th anniversary cake; from there, in stations-of-the-cross fashion, guests travel to the Dungeon, where Modern Primitives Master Santiago and his crew demonstrate rope bondage and hot wax (what, no stigmata?) as DJ Trava spins industrial-strength trance music. The Stop AIDS Project and the Sisters will hold a Condom Savior Mass at midnight, and that's about the only remnant of a religious ritual to be found in a night that also features performances by Flynn DeMarco and Patty O'Furniture in the Tranny Cabaret, a slave auction, and a procession led by the Dr. Pump Drummers and All-Girl Twirling Brigade, culminating in a procession by the Seminal Tribe Fire and Drum Circle Players. Whore Church features dancing with live snakes and scorpions as the night, and perhaps the world, comes to an end. Doors open at 9 p.m. at 74 Otis (near Mission and South Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 332-7848.
Scary Monsters and Super Creeps Spend a lazy afternoon watching Tokyo get stomped at the Artists' Theater Workshop, a new movie and performance theater created and run by an Oakland-based artists' collective. Since its opening party two weeks ago, the theater has been luring viewers with a mix of old favorites and experimental new stuff. This afternoon's double bill, called Daycamp, features Godzilla on Monster Island (Godzilla and Angillus fend off Gigan, a monster with a buzz-saw in his belly) and Mothra (giant caterpillar invades Tokyo, steered by supernatural twin girls). After bad dubbing, jerky action shots, and garish Tohoscope color, the evening's films may seem foreign in their own relatively sophisticated way. Lumiere and Company is a collection of 40 52-second films shot by 40 filmmakers, each using the original camera the Lumiere Brothers used at the turn of the century. David Lynch is among them, turning in a surreal dreamscape viewers can compare with his portrait of a druggy, psycho Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet, the last film of the night. John Boorman's Zardoz, a sci-fi adventure starring Sean Connery as an exterminator, plays between Lumiere and Lynch. Daycamp begins at 2 p.m.; Lumiere & Co. begins at 8 p.m. at the Artists' Theater Workshop, 1932 Telegraph (at 19th Street), Oakland. Admission is $5 (drinks and refreshments available); call (510) 653-1602.
And Noow, Trrrropic of Cancerrrrr! Erotica means different things to different people -- at the April Fool Follies Fund-Raiser, it means people with heavy Scottish burrs, or people affecting heavy Scottish burrs, or just drunk, slurring people reading erotic poetry and performing excerpts from the steamy stories of Henry Miller and Anais Nin. It's a benefit for pub thespian collective the Bare Bones Theater, who'll read with Edinburgh Castle manager Alan Black. In between readings, you can be sure that people will be getting their hands good and greasy with fish 'n' chips and looking for dance partners to trundle around the floor to '60s cover band the Termites. Turned on yet? The show, which really is for a good cause, begins at 8 p.m. at the Edinburgh Castle, 950 Geary (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $7-10; call 885-4074.
"But Easter-Day Breaks!" ... as Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote; "But Christ rises! Mercy every way is infinite -- and who can say?" Easter day breaks especially early in some quarters, thanks to daylight-saving time and the 77th annual Easter Sunrise Service. Spiritually minded San Franciscans will gather at the top of Mount Davidson at 6:30 a.m. for a nondenominational service at which Dr. Glenn Cole delivers an Easter message and the Rev. Stacy Boorn reads an Easter story, followed by live choral music. The gathering is centered around the Mount Davidson Cross, the largest privately owned cross in America since the Council of Armenian-American Organizations bought it from the city in 1996; voters approved the sale after a contentious civic discussion over the separation of church and state. (Mount Davidson Park is located at Landsdale & Myra, S.F. Admission to the service is free; call 566-8393.) This spring, a new citywide debate over religious and secular traditions was sparked by the announcement that the Castro would be cordoned off on Easter Sunday so the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence could celebrate their 20th anniversary with "Easter 1999: Two Decades of Decadence," a picnic and stage show. Catholic San Francisco and the gay Catholic group Dignity are counseling tolerance, but as the daily editorial pages will attest, some of the city's devout Catholics (including actual nuns) are offended by the flamboyant drag-queen sisters and their naughty party plans, which include Easter Bonnet and Basket contests and a Hunky Jesus competition. Tasteless? Sure. But overlooking the obvious fact that the church has offended plenty of people in its day, it's important to note that the Sisters are an international charitable institution that takes care of the needy and the infirm, just like other nuns. Phranc, Connie Champagne, and the Metropolitan Community Gospel Choir play the party, a benefit for two local youth programs. It begins at noon on Castro between 17th and 18th streets, S.F. Admission is by donation; call 552-0220.
A Bitter Pill Carl Djerassi, the Stanford chemist who helped develop the birth control pill, is something of a Renaissance man: Besides writing scholarly papers, he has dabbled in essays, autobiography, and fiction. He calls his work "science in fiction" to distinguish it from science fiction, which should appeal to readers who find the science in science fiction strangely convoluted or outright unlikely. ACT alum Ed Hastings will direct the Eureka Theater's production of Djerassi's drama An Immaculate Misconception, which considers the ethical and emotional implications of pregnancy. At the heart of this tale of love and reproductive technologies is a scientist who tests a controversial procedure on herself without telling her lover or colleagues. The show, which debuted at last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, opens at 8 p.m. (following previews Thursday through Sunday, and runs through May 2) at the Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson (at Battery), S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 788-SHOW.
Springtime for Hitler Dictators and despots will have their day in ... People Too, a collaboration between audio artist Paul DeMarinis and filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt. DeMarinis, a multimedia and electronic sound artist whose work has been installed at the SFMOMA, will discuss his audio collage-in-progress, which is based on a speech given by Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin around 1936, the text of which he remixes with relevant audio clips from Stalin's era. Rosenblatt, a documentary filmmaker, will screen and discuss Human Remains, which profiles Hitler, Mao, Tito, Mussolini, and Stalin, sidestepping the atrocities they committed to reveal lesser-known, human aspects of their personalities: the pets they enjoyed, the people they liked, what kinds of tea they drank, and so on. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., preceded at 6 p.m. by a family-style dinner, at Headlands Center for the Arts, East Wing, Fort Barry Building 944, San Rafael. Admission is free-$12; call 331-2787 to reserve dinner space.
Gone to Look for America To find out what it means to be a black American now, author Randall Kenan decided to look beyond his own experience (as a black Southern writer) and hit the road. Kenan traveled cross-country for six years, conducting hundreds of interviews in Atlanta, Oakland, and Anchorage, and even in the Aryan Nation camp of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, looking for answers. The book that came of that long trip, Walking On Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century is part travelogue, part cultural analysis. Kenan, whose book Let the Dead Bury Their Dead was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, will talk about Walking On Water during an Intersection for the Arts residency that also includes a public interview with Bastard Out of Carolina author Dorothy Allison at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tonight's discussion begins at 8 p.m. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is $5-7; call 626-2787.
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