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Tribute to Billy Wilder; No Categories; John Cage Memorial Barbecue; Bellyachers; Persephone's Bees

Wednesday, Apr 26 2000
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To most minds, a German comedian is more a punch line than a promise. And then there's Billy Wilder. The Viennese-born director put Marilyn Monroe over a subway grate in The Seven Year Itch, Tony Curtis in drag in Some Like It Hot, and James Cagney between several Communists and two hot lips in the comedic whirlwind One, Two, Three. He also offered us the silver screen's quintessential anti-heroes in Double Indemnity, gravelly tales of alcoholic delusion and despair in The Lost Weekend, and the pale white underbelly of Hollywood in Sunset Boulevard. Those constitutionally incapable of appreciating paradox might skip Wilder -- he tempers comedies with tragedy and drama with humor, and sometimes it's difficult to decide where to file the tape. This, no doubt, explains Wilder's lasting affection for Jack Lemmon, with his anguished puppy-dog eyes and believable buffoonery. They worked together on no fewer than seven movies, including The Apartment, which garnered Oscars for best movie, screenplay, and director. The Apartment, the story of an office worker who lends his flat to philandering higher-ups in hopes of a promotion, is paced as a comedy with delightful, loping music and a supporting cast painted in broad silly strokes, but the motivation of the story is a fragile, misty-eyed Shirley MacLaine, whose love for a married man leads her to take an overdose of sleeping pills in Lemmon's apartment after her beau offers her a hundred dollars "to buy something nice." And Lemmon loves her, doing a lighthearted verbal two-step about his new derby hat just before MacLaine explains that her compact mirror is broken because that's how she sees herself. Bittersweet through and through, The Apartment isn't the sort of high camp usually offered by Outsider Enterprises, which brought us tributes to Valley of the Dolls and John Waters, but the "Tribute to Billy Wilder" promises pure comedic relief in the form of "The Wild, Wild Women of Wilder" (Jordon L'More as Monroe, Arturo Galster as Marlene Dietrich, Connie Champagne as Norma Desmond, and Matthew Martin as Tony Curtis as Josephine from Some Like It Hot) and an onstage interview with Edie Adams, who plays the secretary and former paramour of MacLaine's no-good boyfriend, as well as a greeting from Lemmon on Friday, April 28, at the Castro Theater. Live show and film at 7 p.m., film only at 10:45 p.m. Tickets are $7.50-15; call 863-0611.


Following the success of February's "No Categories," Ubiquity Records presents a monthly night of ambient and down-low beats supplied by DJs featured on the Ubiquity, Luv N' Haight, and Cubop labels. Besides regular hosts Jonah Sharp, Vinnie Esparza, and Andrew Jervis, this month's session will offer Chicago's Anthony Nicholson, whose mix of Afro-beat and funky future science has informed the Urban Sound Gallery and his own label, Clairaudience. "No Categories" will be held on Friday, April 28, at 111 Minna at 9 p.m. Ticket are $5 before 11 p.m. and $7 after; call 864-8448.


In keeping with the very experimental nature of composer John Cage, the John Cage Memorial Barbecue offers the premiere of Randy Nordschow's composition for five electric guitars performed by the Guitars of Wrath, as well as "Transitoire," written for guitars, amplified gong, space heaters, water, and video, and "Drawing a Line as Far as I Can Reach," written for a solo beer drinker and a trumpet. Fred Frith joins the Guitars of Wrath on Saturday, April 29, at Mills College in Oakland at 8 p.m. Admission is free; call (510) 430-3308.


Rising out of Oaktown like a misplaced Patsy Cline, Sandra Mello's voice leads the Bellyachers through patina-rich country songs that touch on the darkness of Tarnation without the artsiness, and the homespun honesty of Loretta Lynn without the clichés. Following the country track of loss, the Bellyachers offer tales about love ("His stare gets tangled 'round my hands/ Tied in prayer and tied in prayer") and displacement ("We blamed Nashville for our unrest") without the tongue-and-cheek faithlessness of y'allternative. We're lucky to have them for our own. The Bellyachers open for Joe Buck on Saturday, April 29, at the Ivy Room in Albany at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; call (510) 524-9299. And on Sunday, April 30, supporting Mover at the Hotel Utah with the Blue Arrows at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $4; call 546-6300.


Sounding like Nico interpreted through French ye-ye, Persephone's Bees create garage-heavy go-go and dark, keyboard-heavy psychedelica strained through a martini shaker with a pop twist. Angelina Moysov trills through lines like "I see the darkness in your eyes" in a distinctive Russian parlance that is part Brigitte Bardot coquetry and part Nina Hagen lunacy, while guitarist Tom Ayres and Loved Ones backbone Bart Davenport lay down a bed of confectionery hooks so insidious and irresistible it should be given a warning label: highly addictive, even if taken in small doses. Moysov's sultry lullabies, which are sometimes sung in her native tongue, twirl around arsonists, Dostoevski, memory, and a sky burdened by the weight of mankind's self-seeking demands ("It hurts to be the sky," Moysov tenderly explains), making the music as surreal and heady as it is gorgeous. Persephone's Bees perform one last night before going into the studio for a month on Tuesday, May 2, at Cafe Du Nord with Perry Dakar opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 861-5016.

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Silke Tudor

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