Piper Down! To know the Celtic punk band The Real McKenzies is to love bagpipes and sheep and Sean Connery, to feel a cool breeze waft up under your kilt, to put away more haggis and Glenfiddich than is reasonable or necessary. The self-proclaimed Grand Defenders of the Scottish Realm are actually Canadian, but their allegiance clearly belongs to the bonny highlands and craggy, well, anyway, you get the idea. Like their Sudden Death Records release Clash of the Tartans, which paired D.O.A. drummer Brian O'Brien with two-time world champion bagpiper Allan Macleod, the band's repertoire mixes it up with classics ("Loch Lomond") and originals (like the simply but eloquently titled "Bastards"), salting each with gratuitous references to Scotch whiskey and the wheezy squeal of pipes. Stunt Monkey opens for the Real McKenzies at an all-ages show at 9:30 p.m. at Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $6; call 621-4455.
Blind Date Singles will be searching for answers to the big questions at a premiere party for the second season of HBO's comedy Sex and the City. To wit: What constitutes cheating? Is it OK to fake it? And isn't there some way to meet people that doesn't involve getting drunk and watching TV? Based on the New York Observer columns and subsequent book by Candace Bushnell, the series approaches singledom and sexual ethics from the mostly female perspective of the columnist herself (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) and some of her thirtysomething women friends. A post-screening raffle benefits the San Francisco Sex Information Hotline. The screening begins at 8 p.m. at Martuni's Lounge, 4 Valencia (at Market), S.F. Admission is free; call 989-SFSI.
Goode Times "Who are you?" the Joe Goode Performance Group continues to ask in its very theatrical dances, "and why are you here?" Last year's Deeply There (Stories of a Neighborhood) used a narrative-driven tale about a man whose lover is dying to pose questions about identity and community. Like Deeply There, this year's collection of dances explores those issues from a decidedly queer perspective, weaving spoken text and live song into the movement. With 1989's Doris in a Dustbowl, Goode reprises his role as Rock Hudson to Liz Burritt's Doris Day, adding snippets of dialogue from such films as Pillow Talk to a deconstruction of Hollywood archetypes. For his new work Gender Heroes -- Part I Goode interviewed a broad range of local residents about who shaped their ideas of what a man or woman should be, turning their answers into a dance. Goode's comedic solo 29 Effeminate Gestures is a more personal variation on that theme. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sunday) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $18-25; call 978-ARTS.
Arrrr! Before they were captured and sentenced to be hung, the pirate trio of Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and "Calico" Jack Rackham was sailing around Jamaica and the Bahamas, foraging for food and loot. In researching violent female historical characters for a past production, Central Works Theater Ensemble came across Bonny and Read, two female pirates whose colorful shared pasts anchor Central Works' new 1700s-era drama Pyrate Story. As legend has it, Bonny was an Irish-born hell-raiser whose marriage to pirate informant James Bonny essentially dissolved when she met Rackham, with whom she stole a sloop and ran away. Historical conjecture offers varied accounts of their relationship with each other, and with Read (some say Bonny had a thing for Read, who passed herself off as a man but eventually revealed herself as a woman); in this very theatrical production, however, Bonny and Read settle their differences with sword fights in fine swashbuckling tradition. The show, written by Gary Graves, opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through July 3) in Jack London Square, 427 Water (at Broadway), Oakland. Admission is $10-13; call (510) 558-1381.
Song of Themselves Walt Whitman's America wasn't all homespun heroes and glorious, wide-open spaces; some of it was the seedy world of newspapering, which Whitman entered as a teenage typesetter. It was there, just before the Civil War, that the budding poet met Fanny Fern, a thrice-married columnist and novelist who chafed against women's prescribed role by championing women's equality in print and prowling New York dressed in men's clothing; her disregard for convention apparently appealed to Whitman, and they became fast friends. Fern, best known for penning the phrase "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach," promoted Whitman's poetry and lent him money, but the friendship apparently fell apart after Leaves of Grass was published, when Fern demanded repayment for the loan. Jewel Seehaus' play Fanny and Walt looks into the fluid gender roles and shared literary ambitions that helped mold this unusual friendship. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through June 26) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 289-2000.
A Yen for Zen The road to inner peace begins at the intersection of JFK Drive and Stow Lake, which eventually leads to "Change Your Mind Day," an outdoor celebration of Buddhist tradition. Blocking out the noise and pandemonium of modern urban life might be hard, but it's not impossible: New York is staging its sixth such event in Central Park today. Here in our main park, you can dig deeper into the essence of dharma with local teachers or settle into a Zen-like serenity with poetry, movement, and music performances. Try to find compassion for your fellow man as you share meditation space, and reconcile yourself to the impermanent nature of life when everyone packs up and leaves at 5:30 p.m. The event begins at 12:30 p.m. in Pioneer Meadow, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free; call 364-1404.