Benign Despots It's important to remember that when the Dictators emerged back in 1975, musical dinosaurs like the Eagles still roamed the Earth and, along with disco, ruled the airwaves. Punk had only begun to break in the U.K. with the Sex Pistols and the Clash, and stateside with CBGB bands like the Ramones. In that dismal climate, the five-piece New York outfit released a handful of cult-status albums and then, like others of their kind, lived in relative commercial obscurity for the rest of their lives. The Dictators were not the best that punk produced, but they did contribute a few good stinging lines, some blistering licks, decent treatments of Stooges and Flamin' Groovies songs, and ... Handsome Dick Manitoba, who began as their roadie and became their singer. Jacksaints and Kingdom First open for the Dictators at 10 p.m. at Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $10; call 621-4455.
Who Are the Artists in Your Neighborhood? For Precita Eyes Mural Arts & Visitors Center, which offers citywide guided mural walks, bike rides, and bus tours throughout the year, it's always mural awareness month. But in May, Mural Awareness Month becomes official, with increasing numbers of tours led by experienced muralists, who provide background and insight on art that most people see daily but know little about. Today, the center also hosts the Mural Awareness Festival, an art- and activity-filled afternoon in the park, where the Precita Eyes Paintaz & Playaz join the Blue Fox Orchestra, singer Jorge Molina, and other performers to create "The Curves of Life," a kind of art and performance mural jam. Would-be muralists are invited to pick up a brush and join the community paint-in. The festival begins at 1 p.m. in Precita Park, Precita & Folsom, S.F. Admission is free; call 285-2287.
Hit the Road The city streets will be full of moving bodies from dawn until dusk today, so drivers should consider alternate modes of transportation. The day starts early as seeded marathon runners, costumed centipede teams, and anyone else who feels like running through the streets of San Francisco lines up for Bay to Breakers (disappointing but important tip: Naked running is strictly forbidden). The world's largest footrace, a benefit for kids' charities, begins at 8 a.m. at Howard and Spear and travels up Harrison to the Hayes Street Hill and through Golden Gate Park to the beach; a costume contest and concert featuring the Staple Singers follows the race in the park's Polo Field. Registration is $25; call 808-5000, ext. 2222. Later in the evening, thousands more people will participate in the 16th annual San Francisco AIDS Candlelight Vigil, part of an international vigil held today in over 400 locations. The vigil remembers the nearly 18,000 San Franciscans lost to AIDS with a march to City Hall, where the cast of Rent, Tom Orr, and the Metropolitan Community Church Choir will perform and local officials will speak. The walk begins at 8 p.m. at Market and Castro in S.F. Admission is free; call 252-9266. Each event will be preceded by festive related events: The Bay to Breakers Expo, a fitness paraphernalia marketplace, opens at 11 a.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday (followed at 5 p.m. Saturday by a pasta party) at the Hyatt Regency, 5 Embarcadero Center, S.F. Admission is free; call 808-5000, ext. 2222. And "Tabu Tiki: Every Drop Is Sacred," a fund-raiser for the AIDS Vigil, goes tropical with DJs Otto and Alvin A Go-Go, the Tragic Tourist Award, and live music from the Mr. Lucky Experience. It begins at 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Stud, Ninth Street & Harrison, S.F. Admission is $5; call 255-6455.
Track Marks What's next after you've played with X on a record store rooftop and contributed a song to the lesbian crime caper film Bound? If you're local power-pop band the Hail Marys, you play "Beautiful Trainwreck," an acoustic music and poetry event with featured readers Scott Taylor and Curt Hopkins. As part of the Pacific Northwest's Big Time Poetry Theater group, Hopkins and Taylor mixed their own work with obscure stuff -- 19th-century lesbian poets and the like. This time, they offer original lyrical vignettes, with the Hail Marys chiming in on the last long piece before the band jumps into its own set. The show, a prelude to the monthly staged reading series Hopkins hopes to launch, begins at 9 p.m. at Doc's Clock, 2575 Mission (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 824-3627.
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Those handy new Valencia Street bike lanes aren't big enough for cyclists and double-parked cars: Something's gotta give. Today, it's cars, which don't belong there anyhow and won't stand a chance against the "group bike train" heading downtown at 8:30 a.m. as part of Bike to Work Day. While it does reinforce the theory that law-abiding, tax-paying cyclists have as much right to the road as their car-bound counterparts, Bike to Work isn't meant to inflame existing tensions between two- and four-wheeled drivers; it's meant to promote the idea that more commuters on bikes means less cars on the road, less pollution in the air, and so forth. People who bike today can fortify themselves with free snacks and drinks en route to work at one of the many Energizer Stations set up at busy corners (Valencia & 17th Street, 19th Avenue & Holloway, Market & Duboce, and others). And the Bike Hut at Pier 40 (Embarcadero & Townsend) will offer free tuneups all day. For more information on this and related events, including the S.F. Bike Coalition benefit show with Box Set (Friday at Slim's) and the Bike Doctor clinic (more free tuneups Saturday at Market & Church), call the SFBC at 431-BIKE.