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Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Last year wasn't a good year in Venezuela. The democratically elected president, Hugo Chavez, was ousted by a military coup, protesters were shot dead, and television stations became rebellious. Kim Bartley and Donnacha O Briain, two Irish filmmakers, happened to be in Caracas at the time. Their resulting documentary, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, chronicles the whole ordeal from inside the presidential palace, as it happened. The balance of power among oil companies, U.S. politicians, and the majority of Venezuelans may have seemed well covered by mainstream news sources in April 2002, but this film appears to have an authoritative -- and distinctly different -- perspective. A discussion follows the screening, which begins at 8 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 824-3890 or visit www.atasite.org.

Thursday, September 25, 2003
We don't always understand the difference between "a spoken-word performance" and "a play," but it's certainly worth it to see both. One thing we definitely understand is the phrase "Having fun with despair, loss, and death in the killer robot future" (especially the "killer robot future" part), which just happens to be the description of "Being Terminatimable," an evening named after one of those charming vocabulary flubs our president so often makes. It's a vaudevillian cabaret-type evening celebrating the joys of sorrow, with live accompaniment and spoken-word performances. Sweet Oblivion, The Smile of Death, and The Glitter Man are the short plays that make up this Running With Scissors Theater Company production. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. (and continues through Sunday) at the Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $15; call 364-1411 or visit www.climatetheater.com.

Friday, September 26, 2003
What do you call 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea? A good start -- but what about people like Gerry Spence? Most famous for having been late activist Karen Silkwood's attorney, he's been a champion of the underdog for a long time. Not only that, but he's really, really good at his job, too: He's never lost a criminal case, and hasn't lost a jury trial since 1969. We say fish this one up off the ocean floor. Spence's current case, the trial of Sandy Jones, deals with a poor woman from rural Oregon accused of shooting a real estate developer. Spence is also a prolific author: His recently published book about Ms. Jones' case is called The Smoking Gun. He reads at noon at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is $6-12; call 597-6700 or visit www.commonwealthclub.org.

Saturday, September 27, 2003
Drawing on the dada movement's ideas about the tyranny of intelligibility, the curators of "Free Mattress" have nevertheless put together a pretty inviting show. David Larsen (aka LRSN) has been making the painstaking, quirky (bet he hates to be called that!) kinds of zines that have given zines a good name. At this exhibit, he's showing drawings and paintings, but it's safe to assume they won't be normal. Vancouverites Amy Lockhart and Marc Bell probably get called quirky by their weeklies back home for stunts like filling a vending machine with little encapsulated figurines, charging a dollar apiece, and calling the whole thing an art gallery. They're showing works on paper, too -- but see above. Will Yackulic, whose paintings and sculpture are on display, is a poet. A quirky poet. View it all beginning at 6 p.m. (the show continues through Oct. 19) at Pond, 324 14th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is free; call 437-9151 or visit www.mucketymuck.org.

Sunday, September 28, 2003
Why anyone would want to hear the blues is sometimes hard to comprehend. Depressing stories and single-note guitar solos seem like they would give you the blues, not take them away. But people around here (OK, OK, and in most of the rest of the world, too) love the music. The warm bass-heaviness of Chicago's honky-tonk style, the upbeat danceability of jump swing, and the stripped-down sound of back-porch Delta blues keep throngs of fans happy -- not sad. This year's San Francisco Blues Festival has all of the above plus vintage soul, some psychedelia, and harmonicas up the wazoo. Headliner Taj Mahal is a highlight, as are the Jimi Hendrix Red House Tour (a mobile museum of Hendrix-iana) and the local boy who always makes good, Nick Gravenites. Get the blues starting at 11 a.m. at the Great Meadow, Fort Mason, Marina & Laguna, S.F. Admission is $25-65; call 979-5588 or visit www.sfblues.com.

Monday, September 29, 2003
The high school hallways of Anytown, USA, are as emblazoned with designer names as a department store. What kids eat, where they go, what they listen to, what they drive -- all are governed by Madison Avenue's relentless youth marketing. Given that the vast majority of teens are tuned in to brand shopping for everything from jeans to colleges, what are the potential drawbacks of this unchecked consumerism? Does individuality stand a chance? Alissa Quart, author of 2002's seminal book Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers, details how the social milieu of the young is being shaped by advertising and lets parents and kids know what they can do about it. Listen up starting at 7:30 p.m. at San Francisco Day School, 350 Masonic (at Golden Gate), S.F. Admission is free (though donations are requested); call 922-7045 or visit www.parentscoalition.net.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003
As we wave goodbye to adolescent acne and hello to bunions, a sad fact begins to sink in: Our tastes, once evolving, have become as adamantine as an aged futon. What's new and different sounds, looks, and smells cacophonous, ridiculous, and disgusting, respectively, and before we know it we're sneering at teenagers on the street because they appear so asinine with their jeans belted around their thighs. Luckily, retro revivals in every aspect of cultural life from fashion to food to theater eventually turn all that was once passé into today's hot item, appealing to both the nostalgic and the hip. Such is the case with the Raveonettes, the Danish twosome whose muscular, primal garage-punk on their 2003 debut, Whip It On, conjured up pleasing shades of the Cramps and the Jesus and Mary Chain. The band hits town tonight in support of its follow-up album, Chain Gang of Love. Neo-wave Kittens for Christian and Stellastarr* open at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $15-32.95; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com.

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Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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