Contrary to popular belief, not everyone ushers in the new year by guzzling bubbly by the bucket and carousing till that cumbersome list of resolutions is just a distant memory -- some folks curl up with a good book or nuzzle with their honey in front of the telly. Whether you're looking to greet 2003 with a fresh start or a hangover, there's no excuse to wallow in the past when the future looks so bright.
The Asian Art Museum's 17th Annual New Year's Bell Ringing Ceremonyis one way to literally ring in the new year. The ancient Japanese Buddhist custom of striking the joya no kane (end-of-the-year bell) symbolizes the expulsion of the 108 bonno (mortal desires) that cause human suffering. The bell is struck once for each bonno, an auspicious act that ushers in a prosperous new year. Visitors -- divided into groups of four to six -- can take a crack at the 2,100-pound, 16th-century bronze bell, which is a part of the museum's permanent collection. In the past, the ceremony was held at the Asian Art Museum, but since its former site in Golden Gate Park now consists of little more than rubble, the San Francisco Main Public Library has agreed to host the event in its atrium, located next door to the museum's expanded facility at Civic Center, which is scheduled to open on March 20. Visitors will be assigned to the 108 groups on a first come, first served basis. The two-hour ritual starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday at 100 Larkin Street (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 581-3500.
Strains of "Auld Lang Syne" probably won't -- at least, we hope -- be heard at "Loft of Love," a New Year's Eve bash benefiting the local nonprofit Brothers Against Guns. Taken under the wing of the legendary Twinkle Brothers (Ralston and Norman Grant), local roots-reggae favorites Native Elements have opened for top Jamaican artists including Yellowman, Black Uhuru, and Bunny Wailer. A low-key affair for those looking to rejoice in a positive, communal setting, this concert also features Riddim Mystic with Soul Rebel. The party starts at 9 p.m. and lasts until 2 a.m. at a new loft space located at 1596 Howard (at 12th Street), S.F. Admission is $22.50-25; call (866) 468-3399 or visit www.true-skool.org.
You could get decked out in your Sunday best and attend any number of black-tie events, but why waste your hard-earned cash mingling with the suits when you can hang out in your birthday suit for next to nothing? Local sexpert Fairy Butch (aka Karlyn Lotney) hosts a New Year's Extravaganza, where women, trannies, and their pals are invited to whoop it up. Much like Lotney's "In Bed With Fairy Butch" lesbian club nights, the event includes strippers, dancing, and a sex-toy raffle. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9:30 p.m. at El Rio, 3158 Mission (at Cesar Chavez), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call FEZ-8000 for information or visit www.fairybutch.com.