It's a Snap In typical kid fashion, Edwin Land's young daughter wanted instant gratification, and she wanted it now. On a family vacation to New Mexico in 1944, Land the younger asked her dad why she couldn't see the picture he had just taken right away. She got her wish -- since her dad happened to be a scientist who could calculate the chemical process and equipment that one-step photography would require. Three years later, Land, now known as the founder of the Polaroid Corp., introduced instant sepia film to the world. Obviously, Land's invention revolutionized photography for tourists and drunken partygoers, but the company collaborated with established and emerging artists, too, exchanging film and cameras for fine art prints demonstrating the Polaroid range. Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, and Robert Mapplethorpe are among the artists whose work will be displayed in the group show "Innovation/Imagination: 50 Years of Polaroid Photography 1947-1997," which opens at 11 a.m. (and runs through July 18) at the Ansel Adams Center for Photography, 250 Fourth St. (at Howard), S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 495-7000.
What the World Needs Now ... is a 71st birthday bash honoring the man who gave the world "Walk on By," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Always Something There to Remind Me," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," "What's New Pussycat?," and the theme from The Blob, just to name a few of his many hits. The 10-piece band Casino Royale, named for one of those hits, does the honors at the "Back-to-Back Burt Bacharach Birthday Bash." With an all-Bacharach set, they add their names to a long list of musicians who've already admired the prolific songwriter's knack for pop hooks, including people whose careers were boosted immeasurably by it (Dionne Warwick comes to mind; so does Elvis Costello). Guests sign a giant birthday card and join in the trivia contest beginning at 9 p.m. at the Hi-Ball Lounge, 473 Broadway (at Kearny), S.F. Admission is $8; call 397-9464.
Six Degrees of Tinky Winky What gives a fundamentalist Christian apoplexy faster: people licking substances off seminude performance artist Karen Finley, or a band of Internet renegades singing about cyberporn? This would be the week to find out, if we could just lure one to Shut Up and Love Me! and Cyberotica! Subtitled "A Low-Tech Rock Musical About a High-Tech World," Cyberotica! celebrates the sexual shenanigans and religious fanaticism that chat rooms inspire. The story is propelled by an all-American single searching for love online, sort of like a mean modern revision of Beach Blanket Babylon; the gender-bent cast includes members of Enrique and the Sick and Twisted Players, as well as Leigh Crow (aka Elvis Herselvis) as a heterosexual agoraphobic exhibitionist cross-dresser who posts self-portraits online. Look for the Teletubby at the show, which begins at 9 p.m. (and runs Thursday nights through July 29) at the Transmission Theater, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10; call 861-6906. Finley brings us an update on the spoken-word cabaret show that earned her a place among the NEA Four, dishing dirt about her experiences with Jesse Helms and Orrin Hatch, and inviting viewers to give her a tongue bath throughout the night. The show, a benefit for this summer's Celebrating Women Festival, opens Friday at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sunday) at the New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F. Admission is $25; call 861-8972.
Let 'Er Rip When former Didjits frontman Rick Sims sings "Brainwasher" with his new project the Gaza Strippers, you can bet the washing's being done with a kerosene-soaked sponge. This is the same Sims who utterly destroyed Devo's "Mr. DNA" and married high camp to wrestling with "Full Nelson Reilly." In his undertaker's suit and colored spectacles, Sims doesn't really seem nuts until he leans into a mike stand and lets loose a high-pitched yelp and a flurry of glam-punk hooks that unfailingly unhinge everyone around him. The mantra of "Short, fast, loud, and catchy" that served him well in both the Didjits and the Supersuckers (with whom he guested for a time) guides the Strippers' Laced Candy, a sloppy but entertaining trip through dive bars, gun shows, and other cheap rock thrills. Loaded, Phoenix Thunderstone, and Custom-Made Scare open for the Gaza Strippers at 9 p.m. at the CW Saloon, 917 Folsom (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 974-1585.
Go East, Young Man The crash of cymbals will herald the arrival of the Kei Lun Martial Arts Chinese lion dancers and mark the beginning of the two-day public concert "Made in San Francisco: An Asian Pacific Heritage Month Celebration at City Hall," which kicks off at 10:30 a.m. today. Hanmadung: Korean Youth Cultural Center Drumming Group is part of Saturday's wildly divergent lineup, which begins at 1 p.m. and includes the 30-member California Chinese Orchestra, poet Genny Lim, hip-hop DJ Vinroc (a two-time International Turntablist Federation champion), and the Asian American Jazz Orchestra performing Duke Ellington's "Far East Suite." Both concerts will be held at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place (between Fulton and McAllister), S.F. Admission is free; call 221-2608.
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.
Seasons in the Sun It takes a certain je ne sais quoi to simultaneously enchant, bewilder, and disgust your public, and April March has it. Disgust because she's led the kind of charmed life that just doesn't seem fair, fascinating though it is: The former Pussywillows singer left New England for L.A. to work as an animator for Ren and Stimpy; while there, she recorded "Don't Whiz on the Electric Fence" for the show, some just-for-fun songs with Brian Wilson and Jonathan Richman, and a couple of her favorite ye-ye (French pop) songs for the French label Eurovision. This got her invited to Paris to work on a solo album featuring backup from Thee Headcoatees and remixes by the Chemical Brothers. There's more, like the part about recording with the Makers, but let's just move on to the music. Sung in breathy French and English, the songs on Chrominance Decoder and Lessons From April March have the goofy, girlish quality of Paris in glorious '60s Technicolor. With "Chick Habit" she tries on the persona of tough-talking go-go gal; "Knee Socks" offers the following philosophy: "The girls in their knee socks ... they've got it made/ They're happy-go-lucky, like bears in a cave ... ding ding ding ding ding ding." March plays with self-proclaimed avant-blues duo Snakefarm and Beth Orton/
Rufus Wainwright tourmate PJ Olsson at 8 p.m. at the Justice League, 628 Divisadero (at Hayes), S.F. Admission is $7; call 440-0409. That lineup continues at the Starry Plough in Berkeley May 21, and Amoeba Records and Cafe Du Nord May 22; check next week's listings for more information.