This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, September 3, 2003
"She wasn't sexy, she wasn't mysterious, and she wasn't vulnerable," claimed Margo Jefferson, writing in the New York Timesabout the gut-busting vocal style of Ethel Merman. Despite her snippiness, Jefferson and a whole lot of other people have been impressed by Everything the Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman, a tribute by cabaret performer Klea Blackhurst. If audiences haven't been seducedby Blackhurst's show, they seem 100 percent charmed by the lack of irony. The operative word here is "belt" -- it's what Merman did best, and it's what Traffic is all about. Blackhurst goes right to the heart of the matter with some of the songs written specifically for Merman: "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "You're the Top" (you there, in the leather, stop that laughing), and the immortal "There's No Business Like Show Business." Blackhurst lets loose tonight at 8 at the Plush Room in the York Hotel, 940 Sutter (at Jones), S.F. Shows continue through Sunday. Admission is $25; call 885-2800 or visit www.plushroom.com.

Thursday, September 4, 2003
Describing herself as a "shy bookworm sweater femme boy princess," Leticia Marisol Estrella Torrez, the protagonist of the novel Trace Elements of Random Tea Partiesby Felicia Luna Lemus, moves to Los Angeles. In that bastion of collectively-agreed-upon falsehoods, the book-smart lady must find a way to stay both honest and sane. Lemus has been compared to superstars like April Sinclair and Rita Mae Brown, and seems to be running with the in-crowd of new queer literature in this town: She recently read with Michelle Tea, and tonight she shares the podium with Daphne Gottlieb, who reads from hernewest novel, Final Girl. The stories begin at 7:30 at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-9246 or visit www.moderntimesbookstore.com.

Friday, September 5, 2003
The Spice Boys of Denmark, Junior Senior, are from the Gravy Train!!!! school of dirty lyrics and lotsa booze, but the band's feel-good dance anthem "Move Your Feet" takes so much from early Michael Jackson that it's totally freaky. The number of the duo's influences might not sound good on paper -- Salt 'n Pepa, Gram Parsons, psychedelia, plenty o' guitars -- but to hear people tell it, Junior Senior is Sly & the Family Stone, ABBA, and Chumbawamba all rolled into a couple of white guys onstage. The group even has backup singers. High energy plus no respect for nothin' plus great pop songwriting equals you sweating, tonight. Communiqué and Young Heart Attack open at 10 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $10; call 621-4455 or visit www.juniorsenior.com.

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Saturday, September 6, 2003
Mikhail Baryshnikov -- a guy who, it's safe to assume, knows what he's talking about when it comes to dance -- says very good things about Tere O'Connor's choreography. Things like "... deeply personal, quirky and utterly amusing, but beneath the humour lies tenderness and truth" (as Misha was quoted as saying in a press release). Currently in the Bay Area for the first time, O'Connor lets his imagination go further than dance-world people generally do by using text, video, and everyday life in his pieces. Such genre-bending would give most ballet masters fits -- and we like that. For instance, his world premiere, Lawn, addresses undancerly issues like ecosystems and garbage. Again with the balletomanes having conniptions -- picture us laughing and cheering. Lawnbegins this evening at 8 (and repeats tomorrow at 7 p.m.) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $13-25; call 978-2787 or visit www.yerbabuenaarts.org.

Sunday, September 7, 2003
If the world were a high school, San Francisco would be one of the cool kids, slouching in the corner wearing black eyeliner, hanging out with Amsterdam. The Pride Parade would be our feather boa, the Folsom Street Fair our leather pants, and Nob Hill our perfume. But we wouldn't be caught dead without our Fringe Festival -- the glitter on our face. Providing high-quality out-there theater for the 12th year in a row, the well-organized series allows audiences to walk from show to show, since most are right next to each other downtown. If you don't like Union Square, a bunch of other productions that promoters call "BYOV" (Bring Your Own Venue) go up in places like planetariums and buses. This year's festival highlights include the coming-out baseball drama The Seventh Game of the World Series, Howard Zinn's Marx in Soho, and Clearing Hedges, about sports figure Babe Didrikson. The first shows start at 7 p.m. at the EXITheatreplex near the corner of Taylor and Eddie and several other venues in S.F. Admission is $8; call 673-3847 or visit www.sffringe.org.

Monday, September 8, 2003
Pastor Martin Niemöller famously wrote about the World War II-era Nazi party, "First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew." And thus did a vast number of folks allow the Axis powers to go about their dirty work virtually unopposed. Still, a few brave souls offered up their resistance -- and, in many cases, their lives. German theologian, author, and Protestant pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one such antagonist. His plot to help a group of Jews escape to Switzerland got him arrested and imprisoned in 1943, and his participation in a July 1944 Hitler assassination attempt led to his 1945 hanging in the Flossenbürg camp. Martin Doblmeier's documentary Bonhoeffer tells this tragic yet inspiring tale. The movie screens at 7 p.m. (and runs through Sept. 11) at the Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St. (at A), San Rafael. Admission is $5.50-9; call 454-1222 or visit www.cafilm.org.

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