This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Alice Walker is a cultural giant -- someone recently compared her to Bob Dylan, and that seems apt: One wants to see her in person just to bask in her Pulitzer Prize-winning good-heartedness and wisdom. Today, she'll provide all that glow plus she'll read from a well-received new book of poetry. Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth addresses war and violence and how to carry on in spite of them. At a time when the pain of international conflict threatens even the stoutest hearts, Walker's words are sure to be a balm for the vulnerable and the strong alike. She reads tonight at 7 at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Turk), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit www.bookstore.com.

Thursday, March 27, 2003
Comic Mitch Hedberg sounds like an old Cheech & Chong record. His use of a backup double bass is taken from the Beat poets, and he's not very self-deprecating -- in short, he's an odd duck of a stand-up comedian. He's known for Henny Youngman-type stuff like, "I haven't slept for 10 days, because that would be too long." He also taps into one of the best things about this country: a figure we'll call the "dude-absurdist." This character (who makes up a large part of Hedberg's fan base) acts like an athlete, looks like a thug, and eats like an ox, but he openly worships Monty Python and was suckled on Dr. Demento. This guy loves Adam Sandler, but Sandler doesn't have the bizarre edge that the dude-absurdist needs to survive. Hedberg has it in spades: "I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it. All right." Hedberg will perform tonight at 9, and at 9 and 11 p.m. Friday, at the Punch Line, 44 Battery (at Clay), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 397-4337 or visit www.punchlinecomedyclub.com.

Friday, March 28, 2003
Critical darling Rebecca Gilman is revered for the spare, unsentimental, realistic dialogue of her plays, and Blue Surge is apparently no exception. The plot concerns a decent-guy cop who becomes involved with a decent-gal prostitute when he bungles a sting at her place of work. Gilman's writing has been compared to ripped-from-the-headlines television shows, but the important difference is in the medium. This is theater, not TV, so the writer is under no obligation to sew things up neatly or pander to anyone's cheap moralizing. That's why we need theater so badly. Director Amy Glazer is as reliably amazing as the Magic Theatre itself and should do well with this invigorating material. The production features John Flanagan, Kirsten Roeters, Darren Bridgett, Jibz Cameron, and Corie Henninger. Previews start tonight at 8 (and Blue Surge continues through April 20) at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Building D, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $17-37; call 441-8822 or visit www.magictheatre.org.

Saturday, March 29, 2003
The eighth annual Anarchist Book Fair ought to be extra interesting this year, what with the war and all. Highlights include writer and visual artist Eric Drooker, queer writer Kirk Read, prison activist Rita D. "Bo" Brown, and author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. The big star, though, is beloved poet, author, and longtime activist Diane DiPrima. San Francisco's own famous Beat lady has been fighting the good fight for 50 years and retains the kick to say things like, "It may take 500 years to deconstruct the capitalist/communist systems and the governments that hold them in place, but I think we can do it." More than 60 vendors of anti-authoritarian literature will also do their thing. (Full disclosure: This event is put on by Bound Together Anarchist Collective Book Store, of which I am a member.) The fair will be held today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the San Francisco County Fair Building, Golden Gate Park (near Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way), S.F. Admission is free; call 431-8355.

Sunday, March 30, 2003
For serious record collectors, the KUSF Rock 'n' Swap is the place to be, and has been for the last 15 years. Vinyl is very much the name of the game at this event, which benefits KUSF radio's independent, commercial-free programming. The station is staffed by somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 volunteers, all working to keep real music free out there on the airwaves. Eighty vendors will set up this morning and vicious platterhounds will circle, according to KUSF, starting as early as 6 a.m. That's pretty early for punk rockers, but rumor has it that even Lars from Rancid has been spotted at Rock 'n' Swaps in the past. Station DJs will be on hand to work the door and sell pizza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in McLaren Hall, 2130 Fulton (at Cole), University of San Francisco campus. Admission is free-$2; call 386-5873 or visit www.kusf.org.

Monday, March 31, 2003
Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman's Divine Intervention draws on widely varied influences -- Hal Hartley, Groucho Marx, and Jacques Tati, for example. But Suleiman also seems to have something in common with other young film dudes: The "almost-silent" production, long, long shots, and tiny characters in a big world bring to mind an unlikely companion movie -- Gus Van Sant's Gerry. This film's subtitle is "A Chronicle of Love and Pain," though, not "Suburban Existentialist Assholes." Divine Intervention is set in Suleiman's hometown of Nazareth, and skewers extremism on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It's only appropriate that the picture reportedly provokes a lot of angry laughter. It screens through April 3 at the Opera Plaza Cinema, 601 Van Ness (at Golden Gate), S.F. Tickets are $9; call 352-0810, visit www.landmarktheatres.com, or see Page 72 for show times.

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