Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Everyone knows rock bands must jump around onstage a lot, play very loud, and expect adoration. But sometimes it seems like a little-known secret that band members are also supposed to write good songs and have some sort of working relationship with their instruments. Les Savy Fav knows all the secrets! Lead singer Tim Harrington, particularly, is one of those pants-on-fire guys whose live performances leave audiences wondering whether they should even buy a recording. CDs can sound crazy, but they can't really get crazy, after all. Even so, reviews of the group's latest offering, Go Forth, are fawning: "total addiction ... takes telekinetic control of your ass," mewls the often chilly Pitchfork Media Web site. Gold Chains and Dirty Little Secrets open at 9 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $13; call 885-0750 or visit www.musichallsf.com.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Thanksgiving can be vastly irritating for vegetarians, let alone vegans. Say you've done your research, weighed the options, and made your decision not to eat animals. Most of the time, people respect this position. But come "turkey day," families must be faced and annoying questions re-answered (not to mention you must again consider the rising turkey death toll). For those who instead decide to surround themselves with like-minded folks, try the Raw Foods and/or Vegan Potluck. Bring a large quantity of your favorite healthy dish, a list of ingredients, and your own plate and fork (reusable -- duh!), and be rewarded with a feast of grand proportions. Organizers request that attendees not use any foods "taken from animals or bees without their written consent," and encourage people to bring exciting uncooked foods. Celebrate Turkey Liberation Day instead of the usual at 2 p.m. at the Upaya Center, 478 Santa Clara (at Grand), Oakland. Admission is $1; call (510) 444-8729 or visit www.upaya.org.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Peter Dut and Santino Majok Chuor thought their lives were troubled when they landed in a Kenya refugee camp after their families were murdered or enslaved in Sudan's grim late-'80s civil war. But the real pain began when they were brought to the United States during a 2001 relief effort. Adrift in a country not their own, destitute, and alone in dismal suburbs, they now toil at dead-end jobs and try to reconcile their harrowing pasts with their uncertain futures. Bay Area filmmakers Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk capture it all in the wrenching documentary Lost Boys of Sudan, from the day the pair left the refugee camp through their first 14 months in this country, a time beset with troubles, disappointments, challenges -- and maybe, just maybe, a few tantalizing rays of hope. Lost Boys begins a weeklong run at 6 p.m. at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.
Saturday, November 29, 2003
Try to pretend you don't care that Mark Twain met a guy named Tom Sawyer in a building that stood where the Transamerica Building is now. Tell yourself it's not important that Devil's Dictionary author and Pancho Villa fan Ambrose Bierce wrote for a newspaper here. Do whatever you have to do, but the truth will out. This city's literary history is grand and funny and mysterious, and most of us would like to know more about it. Local author Scott Lettieri to the rescue: He leads the San Francisco Literary Walking Tour, a two-hour meander through North Beach and Chinatown to look at the apartment buildings, cafes, bookstores, and bars frequented by famous writers of the past. While we feel that Jack Kerouac has been (pardon the expression) beaten to death as an important bookish figure, the walk ends with a tribute we've not yet tried: a complimentary Kerouac Cocktail at Vesuvio. The tour begins every Saturday at noon at City Lights Books, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is $25; call 441-0140 or visit www.sfliterarytours.com.
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Compared to the rest of the world, people with AIDS in America have it relatively good. Cushioned by up-to-the-minute pharmacological treatments like the so-called "cocktail," patients are living longer than anyone thought possible when the virus was first identified. But the worldwide picture is far more bleak, with more than 45 million HIV carriers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, many cut off from pricey medical care, miracle drugs, and even education as the disease spreads. The documentary Pills Profits Protest examines the global activism that's coalesced around this issue, chronicling the successes and failures of the advocates who have taken on reluctant governments and profit-hungry drug companies. See it in a showing benefiting HealthGAP, ACT UP East Bay, and the Action Life Film Collective at 3 p.m. at the Parkway Theater, 1834 Park (near Lake Merritt), Oakland. Admission is $8; call (510) 814-2400 or visit www.pillsprofitsprotest.org.
Monday, December 1, 2003
One of the tragedies of the Oakland hills fire of early 1991 was that Maxine Hong Kingston, who lived up there, lost the only copy of her in-progress novel. Kingston had been working on a response to the evasive "three books of peace" of Chinese folklore, to be called The Fourth Book of Peace, when "156 good pages," according to the author, went up in smoke. Her current novel, fearlessly called The Fifth Book of Peace, plaits together several stories: the reconstructed plot from the lost book; the author's misfortunes, including not just the loss of her work and her house, but the death of her father as well; and her horror at the first Gulf War. She also details years spent conducting writing workshops with war veterans, and their attempts to make sense of loss and look for, well, peace. Kingston discusses the volume at 5:45 p.m. in the USF Lone Mountain Campus' Room 100, 2800 Turk (at Masonic), S.F. Admission is free; call 422-6357 or visit www.pacificrim.usfca.edu.