This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Routinely described by the press as "bouffant-haired" and often referred to in casual conversation as "that fucking nutbag who's this close to having nuclear weapons," North Korean President Kim Jong il is a fascinating man, to be sure. Why does the U.S. appear to be ignoring him? North Korean fighter jets tried to force an American "reconnaissance" plane to land several weeks ago, but no one seems particularly concerned. For this sort of situation, an expert in international relations and Northeast Asia is in order. Luckily, we have one: Dr. Peter Hayes of the Nautilus Institute has been trying to play nice with North Korea for a long time, and he has some suggestions about how to avoid getting us all blown up. His lecture "North Korea: That Other Crisis" begins at 8 p.m. at Dominican University, Shield Room, Magnolia (at Palm), San Rafael. Admission is free-$9; call 293-4600 or visit www.itsyourworld.org.

Thursday, April 17, 2003
Cities do not spring up organically, but require careful planning. In 1960s France, the Situationist International art movement made a point of considering this truth. "It was about traffic, the way people are moved around the city, the way the environment coerces people to move from one place to another or avoid places," says San Francisco Cinematheque curator Konrad Steiner. "PsychoGeographic CinemaP" is a collection of films Steiner has put together using the ideas behind the Situationists' purposefully aimless wandering, the cinema-crawl of the surrealists, and the figure of the flâneur, a semiheroic rambler popular in French literature. "A thread running through the show is that when we are exposed to public environments, they reflect and affect both our mood and actions," Steiner explains. "The reflection is told through reactions: a longing gaze, anger, curiosity, or repose. And the effects are shown through actions, like getting arrested, shopping, striking up a conversation with a stranger, or considering suicide." For the 7:30 p.m. screening, stroll purposefully to the well-planned Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 552-1990 or visit www.sfcinematheque.org.

Friday, April 18, 2003
A "live laptop set" sounds like something tech geeks might call fooling around with a new Java application, but the phrase takes on a completely different meaning where Mira Calix is concerned. The South African DJ, also known as Chantal Passamonte, relies on high-tech tools like a Mac G4, a sampler, and various plug-ins to make music, yet her experimental soundscapes also include organic elements, like insect noises and the sound of rocks being rubbed together. Calix's ambient tunes are hard to translate into words, but no matter; Skimskitta, her second full-length, is better listened to than described. Her meditative mix of keyboards, stringed instruments, and nature sounds is also surprisingly adaptable: She's toured with Plaid and Radiohead and was commissioned by the Natural History Museum in Geneva to compose a piece made entirely of bug noises. Calix and Warp labelmate Chris Clark perform live at "Further," Blasthaus' monthly electronic music series, at 9 p.m. at Club Six, 60 Sixth St. (at Jessie), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 863-1221 or visit www.blasthaus.com.

Saturday, April 19, 2003
Greg Walloch, a gay stand-up comic from New York, believes that we're all disabled in our own special way (his being cerebral palsy). This idea is deeply reassuring: It's not just me, it's everyone. Walloch's routine was once called "Fuck the Disabled" -- in his mind, it was a command, not an insult -- but he changed the name when he discovered that the New York Times wouldn't review anything so potty-mouthed. That show became a short film, Keeping It Real: The Adventures of Greg Walloch, which the Times called "[s]imultaneously tough and disarmingly sweet." This comedian, like Margaret Cho and Janeane Garofalo before him, is also a storyteller unafraid to tell his truth. His voice is a beautifully manicured thing, full of breathy, faux-reassuring low tones and hopeful highs, a David Sedaris—style affectation that leaves the audience craving more. His act this time around is called White Disabled Talent, and it opens tonight at 8 p.m. (and continues through April 27) at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 861-8972 or visit www.nctcsf.org.

Sunday, April 20, 2003
Fans of Christopher Guest's mockumentaries This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, and Best in Show won't be disappointed with the director and actor's latest lampoon, A Mighty Wind. Guest and Eugene Levy team up again (they collaborated on Guffmanand Best in Show) to send up the world of folk music, a scene ripe for skewering. After the death of icon Irving Steinbloom, his tone-deaf son organizes a televised memorial concert at New York's Town Hall that reunites a motley crew of old-time icons: the Folksmen (whose albums bear the titles Hitchin', Wishin', Ramblin', and Singin'); the New Main Street Singers, a color-coordinated "neuftet"; and Mitch & Mickey, a songwriting duo in the midst of a bitter divorce. Guest is dead-on in his depictions of the genre's many pretensions, and as usual he leaves his stellar ensemble cast to improvise its own dialogue. A Mighty Wind plays in an open-ended run at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Center, Battery & Sacramento, S.F. Admission is $7-9.75; call 352-0810, visit www.landmarktheatres.com, or see Page 55 for show times.

Monday, April 21, 2003
Not since Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs juxtaposed images of leather daddies with those of naked children has art had the impact that Paul Maurice's work does in the exhibit "The Art of Injustice." His mixed-media pieces incorporate text, sculpture, and found objects, concerned mostly with horrifying tales of murder, torture, and mayhem perpetrated by police and correctional facilities upon people of color. Size 10, for example, tells the harrowing story of JoAnn Yellowbird, who miscarried after being kicked in the abdomen by police in Gordon, Neb. Text describing this event rests beneath three images: a clinical picture of an IUD, labeled "98% effective"; a similar placard about condom use ("82% effective"); and a pair of boots nailed to the wall, with "100% effective" printed on Plexiglas, giving the words and numbers a slightly blurred effect. This show may move viewers to tears rather than to rioting, but it should have an effect similar to Mapplethorpe's. Get the picture at the Cesar Chavez Student Center Art Gallery at San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway (at 19th Avenue). The show continues through May 14. Admission is free; call 338-2580 or visit www.sfsustudentcenter.com/artgallery.

Tuesday, April 23, 2003
If you typically associate pilgrimages with cultural journeys -- you know, a trip to Graceland or the Baseball Hall of Fame -- you're not alone. The average secular person likely finds the idea of a spiritual trek hard to grasp, but even folks who were raised religious, like Roman Catholic author Rosemary Mahoney, can be curious about what inspires such travelers. Questioning her own skepticism, Mahoney set off on six journeys around the world to research her new book, The Singular Pilgrim, in which she ponders philosophical questions about the nature of faith and belief. However, it's Mahoney's personal anecdotes -- her friendship with an Indian teenager who becomes both tour guide and spiritual adviser in the holy city of Varanasi, or her banishment from Israel's El Al Airlines because she fit the profile of a terrorist -- that appeal most. Her reading begins at 7 p.m. at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera. Admission is free; call 927-0960 or visit www.bookpassage.com.

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