This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Charming Hostess' Web site says, "Our genre might best be described as nerdy-sexy-commie-girly." Which would be fine, except that the term seems, believe it or not, too small for this group. Bandleader Jewlia Eisenberg's vision, as performed by her crack team of co-conspirators (which usually includes Marika Hughes, Cynthia Taylor, Ganda Suthivarikom, and Pameliya Kursten), has been much ballyhooed by critics and audiences, partly because Eisenberg's interests are famously wide-ranging, from polyphony and polyrhythms to punk belter Poly Styrene. But in the main the act sticks with heavy Balkan, klezmer, funk, folk, and punk influences (we swear that's the stripped-down version). Even more impressive is the group's dedication to soaring, tightly interwoven vocals, often performed a cappella, and inventive political and cultural lyrics. Good for Cows opens at 10 p.m. at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $6; call 923-0923 or visit

Thursday, April 29, 2004
From the Commodore 64 versus Atari DJ battle to the video on BASIC coding, every part of the art exhibition "Defunct" sounds interesting. The idea behind the show is the reuse of presumed-dead tech and art gadgetry, and curators Grace Hawthorne and Marisa S. Olson reassure us that the collection will be provocative, "Whether one feels nostalgia at a bygone era or anxiety over the future of machine culture's evolution.'" The piece that has most of our attention is Joshua G. Churchill's Reciprocation/ Retaliation, an installation in which all sorts of electronic devices are hooked up to Clappers. You can imagine what happens: The boombox sets off the TV, which sets off the next in an ever-expanding circle of noisy, confused machines. Lights flash, music screams, static hums, and the entire rotating aggregation is self-sustaining. Is that scary or funny? Find out at the opening reception at 6 p.m. (the show continues Friday and Saturday) in SFMOMA's Schwab Room, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free; call 357-4000.

Friday, April 30, 2004
It's like a miniature traveling Exploratorium for sound: The 17-1/2-foot A-frame centerpiece of Sound Stage was specially designed by musical mastermind Paul Dresher so that every surface on its legs, rungs, and base, and even the two giant pendulums hanging from its sides, can be used to make music. It is essentially a very large, very strange musical instrument. (A Dresherophone?) Dresher performs upon it live, along with members of Zeitgeist, a group from Minneapolis (not to be confused with the biker bar on Valencia), with the intention to raise questions about how and why people make music. The show is popular with families and has been touring the country for two years, offering the chance for audience members to jump onstage after the performance and play with the big noisemaker. Sound Stage starts tonight at 8 (and continues through Sunday) in the Forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $7-20; call 978-2787 or visit

Saturday, May 1, 2004
Where we come from, street fairs are placid, homespun affairs. But from the boozy antics of the Haight Street Fair to the stunning excesses of Folsom Street's fiesta, this town's open-air bashes echo the all-out freakiness of our citizenry. Celebrate the nuts and flakes in our local cereal bowl at the How Weird Street Faire, a great excuse for residents to turn out in oddball costumes, indulge in mind-altering substances, and boogie their asses off in the springtime sunshine. With performers, kooky speakers, live music, and four dance areas captained by electronica DJs, the show leaves you no excuse for watching videos inside. It starts at 1 p.m. at Howard and 12th streets, S.F. Admission is $3-5; visit

Sunday, May 2, 2004
Once disused (and misused) military real estate, Hunters Point Shipyard now features five acres of artists' studios. That's bigger than some malls! In fact, that's a good way to describe Spring Open Studio -- like an art mall, complete with food court (or, well, food). But instead of underpaid teenagers hawking mass-produced crap, visitors see artists in their work spaces exhibiting pieces they made themselves. Longtime shipyard studio resident Lawrence Ferlinghetti won't be taking part in the show, but he loves the event, and is quoted in the program calling it "the very best and most representative open studio in San Francisco." The self-guided tour starts at 11 a.m. at the Hunters Point Shipyard Studios, Evans & Innes, S.F. Admission is $1; call 387-5936 or visit

Monday, May 3, 2004
Poppy Z. Brite seemed like the Gen-X answer to Anne Rice when she broke out with her dark 1992 novel Lost Souls. But unlike Rice, Brite progressed: After publishing a few more genre titles (Drawing Blood, Exquisite Corpse, and several horror collections), in the late '90s Brite made a 180-degree turn to mainstream lit, releasing a biography of Courtney Love and two coming-of-age gay love story collections. Now the enchantingly fickle writer has metamorphosed once more with her latest, Liquor, a lighthearted fictional take on the New Orleans foodie scene that's been getting positive press from such high-toned sources as the Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly. Hear Brite read at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit

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