By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
For those dreary darlings who don't know about Morbid Curiosity, it's an annual collectanea of first-person encounters with "the unsavory, unwise, unorthodox, and unusual." In other words, the anthology covers all the darker aspects of life that make breathing bearable, according to chief curator and belletrist Loren Rhoads. The latest issue, No. 6, offers accounts of spirit channeling, medical experimentation, roadkill peeling, suicide, hallucinations, Parisian cemeteries, haunted houses, slaughterhouse remains, psych wards, occult shops, prisons, and Vienna's burial museum. As might be expected with such topics, the prose is utterly emphatic but somewhat inconsistent, a fact that is skillfully waylaid by Rhoads' erudite sidebars, which offer everything from scientific explanations of parasomnia to wry recipes for Crab Louis. In this volume, the most touching and disturbing essay falls under the rubric "Childhood's End": The recollection, "You Lock It Behind You," is that of Lee Smith, who suffered in the dimness of poverty, abuse, and alcoholism as a child. The heart of his essay, however, lies not in those horrors, but in his time spent in the basement of a "nuthouse," undone by terrible screams and animal grunting. (Eventually an orderly takes pity on him and leads him out of the darkness, but not without cost.) Unlike the excruciating myo-pics that litter today's bookshelves, Smith offers his memory quietly and quickly, then looks away, as a real person -- rather than an author -- might.
There is lighter reading as well, found under the heading "Curious Behavior." Kalifer Deil relates a ghoulish story from his time as a teenager in the Coast Guard, when he was assigned to San Francisco's Fort Point in 1954. After retrieving his first "floater" from the bay, Deil found himself tortured by the fort's sadistic cook, a man who relished in sinking the newbie's hand in the corpse's putrid flesh and delighted later in cooking and eating the two crabs he recovered from the body. Saturday night, in celebration of Morbid Curiosity's sixth issue, Deil describes the events that led up to that crab dinner, M. Christian ruminates on suicidal depression and the lure of BART trains, Shira B. recalls her narrow escape from a menacing medical photographer, Jeff Dauber relives his war with Potrero Hill vermin, Lilah Wild offers counsel from a magic charm shop, George Neville-Neil visits the Père Lachaise cemetery, and well-known blood artist M. Parfitt takes part in the masochistic Western ritual of leg shaving. Loren Rhoads hosts the reading on May 11 at Borderland Books (866 Valencia between 19th and 20th streets) at 4 p.m. Admission is free; call 824-8203.
The beer-loving, noise-wielding power trio from San Francisco named F-Hole (not to be mistaken with the Phish-loving trio from Lambertville, N.J.) has turned its new single into a video, literally. Each of the 300 newly printed 7-inches features a different photograph, which, when looked at sequentially, animates the band performing the song "I Need a Drink." In F-Hole's just-completed music video for the tune, those singles come to life, as a doll-faced punkette stumbles upon the vinyl "flip book" while perusing the bins at a local record store (you'll recognize it). If you enjoy the silly punk of the Toy Dolls and the Adolescents or any kind of stop-motion lunacy, you'll want to drop by this show and get your F-Hole filmed (for the threesome's next video). F-Hole holds a release party on Saturday, May 11, at Parkside Bar (1600 17th St. at Wisconsin) with Red Star Memorial playing at 10 p.m. The video will screen before and after the show. Admission is free; call 503-0393.
Over the last 15 years, Craneshave broken free of the shoegazer tag to which they were tethered, gaining a cultlike devotion from fans drawn to the sonic mytho-poetry of the Portsmouth, England, group. From the chilling thunder of 1991's Wings of Joyto the dank, luxurious orchestrations on 1995's Tragedy of Orestes and Electrato the nearly conventional assault of 1997's Population Four, siblings Jim and Alison Shaw have left their dreamy feather-marks on every style of music they've approached. Concepts that might seem pretentious in other hands sound as comforting and accessible as children's sandboxes in theirs. Last year's Future Songs, Cranes' most intimate album to date, was recorded in Jim's home without the added distraction of other musicians. Jim plays every instrument, creating ocean-sprayed soundtracks and tender alien nursery rhymes, over which Alison's tiny, tinsel-toned voice floats like a specter. The Shaws consider this their sunny record, which shows you how far from California Portsmouth actually is. Cranes perform on Monday, May 13, at Amoeba Music at 6 p.m. Admission is free; call 831-1200. The group also plays on Tuesday, May 14, at Slim's with For Stars opening at 9 p.m. Ticket price is $15; call 522-0333.