This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Rodney O'Neal Austin is seemingly so good at everything he tries that you sorta want to punch him in the face. And you would, too, if you weren't too mesmerized by his animation, collage, dancing, writing, and singing to move. Tonight Austin turns his annoyingly capable hands to performing in the Lab's Sound Rewound: Celebrating 20 Years of Sound Art festival, crooning a medley of bawdy, countrified ballads with Minnie Pearl Necklace, accompanied by ukulele, guitar, and mandolin. Also on the mixed-bag of a bill are vibraphone tunes from Kraig Grady and Put Carefully,a partly improvised work by Cheryl Leonard designed to be performed on windowpanes, wineglasses, and lampshades. Ooooohhh-kay. Sit down and shut up starting at 8 p.m. at the Lab, 2948 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $10-25; call 864-8855 or visit www.thelab.org.

Thursday, February 19, 2004
In reading Food That Rocks, an extravaganza of musicianly recipes, you'll discover that Steve Vai is a vegetarian and has his own brand of honey. That's hard to top, man. Next to that, Ted Nugent's predictably grisly contribution is a little bland. It's called "Bubble Bean Piranha à la Colorado Moose," and coming from the notoriously gun-happy author of a couple of his very own cookbooks, notably Kill 'Em and Grill 'Em, it's just not a surprise. A pleasure to behold, as always, but not nearly as juicy as the Vai information. Other contributors include Joe Satriani, Shania Twain, and Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot. Appearing at this reading will be co-author Margie Lapanja (who wrote the book along with Whitesnake lead singer David Coverdale's wife, Cindy), music journalist Ben Fong-Torres, and author-turned-musician Kathi Kamen Goldmark. The book-signing begins at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.

Friday, February 20, 2004
We've all got our heroes, people who changed our world for the better. Plenty of musicians look up to Jimi Hendrix, artists usually dig Pablo Picasso, and cardsharps have S.W. Erdnase. A pioneering rule-breaker, this gambler literally wrote the book on cheating at cards, for which he is revered far and wide. By con artists. Eric Masters is a magician, not a swindler, but Erdnase's life so captivated him that he wrote a one-man show on the subject, called Artifice, Ruse, and Subterfuge. Turns out Masters knows his way around a deck, too. He even competed in the 2001 World Series of Poker. A charming performer who's logged 1,000 hours of poker in the last couple of years portraying a famous trickster sounds like a winning combination -- just don't bet on it. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through Feb. 28) at the Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 673-5530 or visit www.climatetheater.com.

Saturday, February 21, 2004
Ye Olde Castrator/ Jaws is a steel contraption inside a vintage suitcase, which, in the words of its creator, "has a movement sensor that is very moody and goes off when someone gets VERY CLOSE to its razor-sharp snappyjaws." So it won't come and get you, but people visiting Kal Spelletich's show "Machines, Robots, Video" should probably think hard about where their appendages are relative to the art. The drawing machines, the whiskey-pouring machine (voted best by journalists!), even the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard machine: All these are, physically speaking, harmless. Several other pieces are extremely dangerous, and some could kill you -- this is Spelletich's hallmark. It's all in the name of good art. Are you afraid of it? Do you respect it? Does your heart rate rise just to be near it? Well, good. You ought to be paying more attention to art anyway. The exhibition is up through Feb. 28 at the Jack Hanley Gallery, 395 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 522-1623 or visit www.jackhanley.com.

Sunday, February 22, 2004
Nina Hagen must have gray hair under all that Manic Panic and eyeliner, because she's been totally rad since the early 1970s. We attribute the fact that she appears to be about 25 to the constant benefit of her onstage primal-scream therapy. One of punk rock's earliest and most truly iconoclastic heroes, she's been screaming bloody murder since she was a teen, and because bloody murder hasn't slowed down, neither has Nina. Beloved of many but having few real aficionados, the nothing-if-not-dramatic singer has also dabbled in funk, dance, and reggae without ever letting go of her loud, political, bizarre roots. Portland's Storm and the Balls open at 8 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $20; call 626-1409 or visit www.dnalounge.com.

Monday, February 23, 2004
It may seem weird to make a whole feature-length film about a fella who's famous almost entirely for his freaky-fashionable clubwear. But then, you probably haven't seen some of Leigh Bowery's ensembles. Bowery wowed London club kids 20 years ago with gender-bent creations in latex, fur, sequins, and spandex that elevated his over-the-top sense of style into a kind of influential performance art. His underground fame won him gigs designing apparel for dance groups and posing for painter Lucian Freud. But as the '80s waned so did he, dying of AIDS-related causes in 1994. Charles Atlas remembers Bowery's gaudy glory days in The Legend of Leigh Bowery, a documentary tribute that'll provide viewers with some sensational costuming tips if nothing else. Start taking notes tonight at 6 (and again at 8 and 10) at the Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 863-1087 or visit www.roxie.com.

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