This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, February 4, 2004
"Sing Me a Song of Social Significance" was a popular tune and a relatively new idea in the 1930s. Now local folk singer David Rovics, who's been much beloved of both political and musical types lately, has adopted "songs of social significance" as his motto. It seems that the marriage of opinion and song, novel as it may have been in the Roosevelt era, is pretty darn durable. In fact, Rovics is part of a long tradition that includes Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, and Billy Bragg (whose own longevity shows that the genre has never gone out of style). The politico/singer/ songwriter figure has been made fun of a lot in recent times, but this particular folkie's getting nothing but rave reviews and singalongs. Clowns Not Bombs and Iron Sheik open for Rovics at 7:30 p.m. at Studio Z, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10-100 (it's a sliding-scale benefit for a nonprofit political group); call 252-7666 or visit www.studioz.tv.

Thursday, February 5, 2004
Unlike luckier immigrants who sailed to America and other lands with hopes of success and freedom, the vast majority of early African-American newcomers were wrenched forcibly from their homelands, their culture and countrymen dispersed around the world. Local collective Omiiroo spins stories of that scattering, as well as of black life in America, in "Black = Afrika: Visions of the Diaspora," an exhibition of photographs and installations the artists hope will raise consciousness -- and questions -- about their ancestral background and the challenges they've faced in the United States. The exhibit opens today with a reception starting at 5 p.m. (and runs until March 2) at SFSU's Cesar Chavez Student Center Gallery, 1650 Holloway (at 19th Avenue), S.F. Admission is free; call 338-2580 or visit www.sfsustudentcenter.com.

Friday, February 6, 2004
Novelist/poet/essayist/ filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini already had a reputation when he started churning out loopy, salacious film adaptations of classic texts. A gay man who preferred rough trade over fellow intellectuals, Pasolini published his first book of poetry at 19, hung with hustlers in his 30s, and within two tumultuous years in his 40s went from directing a film segment so controversial it got him busted for blasphemy to producing a Bible movie that was praised by critics and churchgoers alike. But it's the eccentric impresario's naughty pictures that live on in "Pasolini: The Erotic Films,"a five-night series of screenings. Tonight's selection, 1970's The Decameron, is a bawdy, Tom Jones ish take on Giovanni Boccaccio's epic 1350 tale of 10 Florentine nobles who flee the Black Plague. The show starts at 7:30 in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 978-2787 or visit www.yerbabuenaarts.org.

Saturday, February 7, 2004
The turbulent battles of the civil rights years were fought at lunch counters, on buses, in courthouses, at schoolhouse doors -- and on the stage. The black theaters that flourished during the Harlem Renaissance morphed into something decidedly more defiant in the '60s, as playwrights like Amiri Baraka (né LeRoi Jones), Ed Bullins, and August Wilson created dramas that angrily attacked society's injustices. You can still catch a whiff of revolution in the air at two period-piece productions: Dutchman, Baraka's 1964 masterwork that uses a chance subway meeting between a black man and a white woman to make scathing points about exploitation and hostility, and Bullins' Salaam, Huey Newton, Salaam, a little-known play that follows Black Panther Party founder Newton on the last days of his life. Catch them both tonight starting at 8 (and running through Feb. 22) at the Next Stage, 1620 Gough (at Bush), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 333-6389 or visit www.wehavemet.org.

Sunday, February 8, 2004
In the late 1800s Oakland became a mecca for African-Americans migrating from the East Coast. The new arrivals found work on the railroads and in the canneries, but life still contained the same sorrows as it did back home -- so they sang about it, giving rise to a vibrant blues scene that saturated West Oakland's black nightclubs and theaters in the 1920s. Celebrate the East Bay's blues legacy at "Oaktown Blue," an afternoon of music, dance, spoken word, and theatrics starting at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak (at 10th Street). Admission to the museum is free-$8; call (510) 238-2200 or visit www.museumca.org.

Monday, February 9, 2004
Have you ever felt like standing up right in the middle of a play and telling the actors what to do? (No, no, not thatway; here, sit down and I'll show you.) While such audience participation would be violently discouraged at most productions, at Campo Santo's "Open Process Series" it's the norm, with players presenting bits and pieces of works in progress for a crowd that's expected to commend, complain, and contribute. This time out, the piece being beaten into shape is Sacrament!, a loose adaptation of material excerpted from Dave Eggers' novel You Shall Know Our Velocity and the author's various smartass essays and articles. Arrive ready to speak your mind at 7:30 p.m. at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 626-2787 or visit www.theintersection.org.

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