This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
What's the last movie you saw? Cold Mountain? Elf? God help you, Mona Lisa Smile? Hey, we all love that sweet, sweet Hollywood pap, but the good folks at the Bay Area Video Coalition hope to claim your attention with an evening of pictures whose messages linger longer than the laughs from Mike Myers' latest yukfest. The fare at the Media That Matters Film Festivalcircles around familiar liberal/progressive turf -- hate crimes, police brutality, racism, corporate greed -- with two hours of shorts that use everything from ambient sound to animation to documentary-style interviews to make their points. The top-billed selection is Diane Wilson, A Warrior's Tale, an eight-minute look at the San Antonio woman who successfully pressured local environmental bad guys to clean up their act; the most harrowing is surely No Escape, Prison Rape, a glimpse into the life of a young man whose petty vandalism wins him a stint in juvenile prison, where he is sexually assaulted. Get an eye-opener starting at 6:30 p.m. at the BAVC, 2727 Mariposa (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is free; call 861-3282 or visit www.bavc.org.

Thursday, January 22, 2004
At press time, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani was being supported by tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators in a call for free elections in Iraq. Oh, the irony: The United States is hedging like crazy, essentially barring Iraqi citizens from voting. In The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq, authors Christopher Scheer, Robert Scheer, and Lakshmi Chaudhry have detailed, among others, Lies 4 and 5: "The War Will Be a Cakewalk" and "Iraq as a Democratic Model." Lo and behold, an anti-U.S. insurgency (no cakewalk, that) and demands for democracy have the Bush administration flummoxed. What's next, incontrovertible evidence that there never were any weapons of mass destruction? The Scheers read from and discuss their book, described by Dennis Kucinich as "required reading for the coming wave of campus teach-ins and mass protests over U.S. policy in Iraq," starting at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit www.citylights.com.

Friday, January 23, 2004
Everyone has at some time been trapped in an uncomfortable, possibly even dangerous situation. When we want to flee yet are unable or unwilling to do so, our hearts race, our breath comes in halting gasps, and our minds fill with desperate notions. Artist Cassie Terman captures this tense atmosphere in Citizen of Trees, a solo performance that combines music, dance, and spoken word to create a four-part parable exploring the concept of escape. The characters Terman portrays are diverse -- a nervous female passenger in a treacherous boat, a confused man struggling to tell the difference between desire and devotion -- and so are the images and words she glues together, creating a discomfiting collage that may ask more questions than it answers. Citizen of Trees begins tonight at 8 (and continues through Feb. 1) at Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 621-7978 or visit www.theatreofyugen.org.

Saturday, January 24, 2004
Every group has its own insults. Actors, for example, use the term "dancer dumb" to belittle their fellow artists. That's not only low, it's also inaccurate. Anyone wanting to see smart dancers need look no further than Flyaway Productions' sociopolitical aerial work The Grim Arithmetic of Water and its accompanying lecture, "Figuring a Grim Arithmetic: A Symposium on Water Scarcity." The production makes use of the company's trademark steel sculpture and daredevil performers, and adds a collaboration with composer and former Charming Hostess member Jewlia Eisenberg that builds on the group's tradition of innovative original scores. Conceptually, the dance piece explores the connections among water, women, labor, dehydration, and salt, while the panel focuses on water problems and solutions around the world. (Take that, image-obsessed line-flubbers.) The discussion begins at 4 p.m. and the performance (which continues through Jan. 31) at 8 at the Cowell Theater, Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $20; call 345-7575 or visit www.flyawayproductions.com.

Sunday, January 25, 2004
Because he dared to play music by black artists on a "white" Cleveland station in 1951, disc jockey Alan Freed has gone down in history as the man who invented rock 'n' roll radio. But before there was Moondog (Freed's on-air persona), there was motormouthed madman Dewey Phillips, who'd been playing genres from hillbilly country to hot R&B on his Red, Hot, & Blue radio show for a good three years -- and in the Deep South to boot. Playwright Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) and Bon Jovi composer/keyboardist David Bryan team up to relate the story of Phillips' rebellious life and tumultuous times with the world premiere of the musical Memphis, a lightly fictionalized retelling of rock's early days. The joint starts jumping at 2 p.m. (and again at 7; Memphis runs through Feb. 15) at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro (at Mercy), Mountain View. Admission is $20-48; call (650) 903-6000 or visit www.theatreworks.org.

Monday, January 26, 2004
When Sandra Scofieldwas a kid, her fervent Catholic-convert mom sent her to religious boarding schools in the hope that her teachers would take better care of Sandra than she could. At age 15, Scofield returned home to West Texas and found herself enmeshed in an emotional maelstrom, with a father who'd deserted the family, a sister who seemed a stranger, and a flighty, barely-there mother who'd slid alarmingly into a fatal illness. In her moving, absorbing memoir Occasions of Sin, Scofield attempts to make sense of her inconsistent childhood, her ambivalent relationship with her mother, and her own quest for autonomy. The author reads at 12:30 p.m. at Stacey's Bookstore, 581 Market (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 421-4687 or visit www.staceys.com.

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