This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, May 5, 2004
The Neil Young comparison is inevitable. (Sorry, guys.) The four members of the Dying Californian are probably sick of hearing it, but that's just tough -- it's a well-deserved compliment. Veterans of indie/hardcore band Nuzzle, the quartet writes songs about longing and loneliness that are the taut products of many years of rock, but are also as pretty and delicate as the abstract image on the cover of We Are the Birds That Stay, the band's addictive first full-length. It's ultimately the urgency and beauty of Nate Dalton's voice that drives the group, with the singer's impeccable phrasing and his rasp tugging at something in your chest. Seriously: At Dying Californian shows, squint-eyed tough guys with sideburns talk about how the music touches their hearts. These are tunes for, as Zero magazine put it, "your inner indie rock drifter." Levi Fuller and R.W. Lynch share the bill starting at 9 p.m. at the Edinburgh Castle, 950 Geary (at Larkin), S.F. Admission is free; call 885-4074 or visit www.castlenews.com.

Thursday, May 6, 2004
Sure, we love hitting local repertory theaters for their regular one- or two-week gluts of noir programming. But my God, how many times can you watch Detour or Double Indemnity before you crave something more? Film scholars Paul Meienberg and "Dark" Marc Dolezal have teamed up to bridge the noir-flick gap with their Thursday night series "Get Lost! 11 Fast and Furious Lost Films From Hollywood's Forgotten Poverty Row Studios!" Each week noir fans view 16mm copies of movies so obscure they'll never be found at Blockbuster, and listen to erudite commentary from savvy film historians. Tonight's pick: The Flame, a 1947 thriller that boasts plenty of creepy German expressionist style, followed by background dish on director John Auer and his actors by Marc Kagan. Pre-show schmoozing begins at 7 and the screening begins at 8 (the venue's lobby doors lock promptly at 8:10) at 182 Second St. (at Howard), Third Floor, S.F. "Get Lost!" continues through May 27. Admission is free but reservations are required; call 552-1533 or visit www.noirfilm.com.

Friday, May 7, 2004
Want to know why the ladies love Wanda Sykes? Because she's sassy. Not "Careful or I'll cut ya" belligerent like Angelina Jolie, or bitingly sarcastic like Janeane Garofalo, or flawed like most of the other chick celebrities rumored to be nervy and bold (save for Roseanne, who's Sykes' comrade in arms, whether she knows it or not). This is a woman who strolled right into Inside the NFL, that cable TV bastion of sweaty, pungent masculinity, and held her own against her co-hosts with nary a giggle or flirty eyelash-flutter; a woman whose guest-star roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm have reduced even the mouthy Larry David practically to dust; and whose Fox show, Wanda at Large, gave us the best reason to skip Friday night cocktails since hangovers. Sykes convulses the audience tonight and tomorrow at 9 and 11 p.m. at the Punch Line, 444 Battery (at Clay), S.F. Admission is $30; call 397-4337 or visit www.punchlinecomedyclub.com.

Saturday, May 8, 2004
Two words should be enough to convince you that the Bike Kitchen's "One-Year Anniversary Party" should fill a space in your dance card today. Ready? "Huffy Toss." Yup, it's true, the exhilaration of the habitués who do time at the DIY bike repair shop is such that they plan to hoist the mini two-wheelers into the air and gaily fling them hither and yon. And let's face it: Bikes are just so much more fun to throw than other stuff, like, oh, discuses, or dwarves, or rent parties. Attendees can also enter the bike bunny-hopping Kangaroo Race and the Paperboy Contest (in which paper-hurling with deadly accuracy is prized), or take a gander at the fancy riding tricks and bike-powered Ferris wheel of the Cyclecide Bike Rodeo. Pedal your mighty steed on over at noon to the Bike Kitchen, 18th Street & Alabama, S.F. Admission is free; call 647-1892 or visit www.bikekitchen.org.

Sunday, May 9, 2004
Ah, Sunday. A day to sleep late, to spend multiple hours on the sofa watching cooking shows on PBS, to reflect on the excesses of the night before -- and, if you're lucky, a day to start in on some brand-new debauchery. Get a good leg up on those bad deeds at Milk's "Sushi Sundays," a weekly afternoon bender with five fresh rock/punk bands, free admission, and all the cheap sushi you can eat. Seeing as how the Bottom of the Hill has discontinued its Sunday bands-and-barbecue blowouts, Milk has the best weekend-capping party in town. Today's mostly all-female lineup includes the psychobilly stylings of Thee Merry Widows (which features the notable presence of buxom blond burlesque queen Miss Eva von Slut), as well as girly aggro attitude from the Bobbyteens, Shevel Knievel, Space Vacuum, and Stiletta. Show up at 2 p.m. for eats and bevvies; the first band starts at 4 at 1840 Haight (at Stanyan), S.F. Call 387-6455 or visit www.milksf.com.

Monday, May 10, 2004
From now on we're going to insist that photographer Pethany P. Chen come along on every road trip we take, because -- judging from the acumen she displays in the exhibition "Land . Window . America ." -- this is a traveler who knows when to yell, "Oooh, look at that!" Chen's show incorporates the magnificent shots she's taken on her worldwide travels, images far removed from typical tourist snaps. Instead of photographing the Golden Gate Bridge or the view from Coit Tower, for example, Chen finds unexpected and unexpectedly beautiful views of parking lots and trash cans. Similarly, her Las Vegas work is more likely to contain slouching, weary slot jockeys than vivid neon, and her landscapes, often taken out of car windows, depict the desolate yet stunning vistas most people drive past without a second glance. Take a look today starting at 9 a.m. (the exhibit runs through Wednesday) at the S.F. Black & White Gallery, 619 Post (at Taylor), S.F. Admission is free; call 929-9424 or visit www.sfblackandwhite.com.

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