Fans of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, prick up your ears: This performance is right up your fictitious alley. Like the faked L.A. historical museum (with displays that delight the eye but don't impart any true information), "The Institute for Relativity Studies: Orientation" isn't a real institute; rather, it's the brainchild of Brian Shapiro, whose musings on culture are documented in a series of vignettes using different media and an impressive host of collaborators from the dance, film, music, and performance art worlds, each sketch constructed as a study done in the institute's "research facility," aka the theater.
In one of the pieces, Shapiro plays the mother of his usual character (the "Ph.D. with ADD," Professor Whittey) in a conspiracy-theory monologue called Taco Bell Islam; another is a film, Lap Dancing on Wall Street, involving Shapiro, bass player Damon Smith, and New York video artists Ed Davis and Abbey Dehnert. Vietnamese folk tales, human-origin myths, and a fight between language and music all vie for your confused and enchanted attention at this conglomeration of "findings," at 8 p.m. at the Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St. (at York), S.F. Admission is $12-16; call 647-2822 or visit www.cultureworksinc.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
The Furs deserve another look
We bet the members of the Psychedelic Furs thought it was a big break when their song "Pretty in Pink" was used as the title track for director/writer John Hughes' 1986 teen-anguish flick of the same name. The association made the Furs an '80s sensation, but it also made them a joke as time went by, with the band's image forever linked to the synth-laden drivel of the era. Sadly, few rock fans have discovered the act's incredible early albums, when its association with the late-'70s British punk scene resulted in a sound more akin to that of the Damned than Tears for Fears: a mix of swirly, trippy guitar licks, bitter lyrics, and frontman Richard Butler's gritty vocals. Though the Furs moved into their greatest-hits phase some time ago, the guys are reportedly back in the studio. See if they've still got it when they hit town tonight at 8 (Shore opens) at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $25; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
There Goes the Neighborhood
A celebration of sheer debauchery
You know the Rev. Steven Johnson Leyba, even if you don't realize it -- he played catcher during the infamous bottle-sodomy performance at political consultant Jack Davis' 1997 birthday party. So maybe you want to leave Mom at home for the "Fuck Your Freedom Group Show," a release party for the new album by Leyba's band, United Satanic Apache Front, that showcases live music, visual art by Leyba and hip collagist Winston Smith, spoken word, and performance art. Leyba is known for using blood, shit, and semen in his works, so protective clothing might be in order. Bucky Sinister hosts at 8 p.m. at ArtSF, 110 Capp (at 16th Street), S.F. Admission is $5-10; visit www.artsf.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Though he's best known for comic strip Bizarro, of late writer/artist Dan Piraro has taken up Bush-bashing with a touring live stage show. Today he joins Bay Area stand-up comic Michael Capozzola to provide weary wage slaves a little post-work humor at 5 p.m. at Stacey's Bookstore, 581 Market (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 421-4687.
-- Joyce Slaton
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