This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, February 2, 2005
It's a long way, in our minds, from noise rock to Renaissance-inspired four-man harmonies laced with flute and melodica. But then, we are neither Josh Alper nor Hugh Holden, who came from acclaimed noise band the Lowdown and have tiptoed their way through the forest to form Whysp, a merry band of neo-hippie post-punk folk revivalists. It makes perfect sense to them, so who are we to quibble? Joined by one of our favorite musicians ever, Jeffrey Manson, and fellow inimitable lad Tom Child, the duo pay delirious, rough-edged homage to villages, wayward children, and fairies. Tonight Whysp appears on a bill with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Oscillating Innards, Meanest Man Contest, Jason Quever, and David Enos & Joanna Lioce as a benefit for the Asia Foundation and Doctors Without Borders, at 8 at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $7; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.

Thursday, February 3, 2005
Our dad called it right years ago when he said, "There's no point in going to your high school reunion, because the only reason anyone goes is to show off how well they've done in life, yet the losers who'd make you feel good about yourself stay home." Right on, Pops! The alumni bulletin of author Sam Lipsyte's fictional Eastern Valley High School includes similarly slanted tales of former students who became big deals -- a major-label recording star, a baseball legend, a famed politician. But naturally the Eastern Valley graduate we really relate to is Teabag, the thirtysomething lost cause who narrates his bad-to-worse life story in the faux newsletter that is Lipsyte's new novel, Home Land. The author reads from his work at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit www.citylights.com.

Friday, February 4, 2005
A break-dance jam is a little like a jazz combo taking solos -- one ecstatic performer after another shines, loving the spotlight but also eager to check out the talent of the assembled crowd. The only thing that stops the round robin, in the case of dancers, is a lack of music. At the "B-Boy/B-Girl Jam"tonight, some master musicians are onstage -- including Brain, Mirv, House, and Dr. Ware -- and they don't want to stop playing any more than the kids on the floor want to stop jumping around. If you don't plan to dance, the organizers politely remind you to "check the balcony." Otherwise, feel free to bring pads at 9 to the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Larkin), S.F. Admission is $13; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com.

Saturday, February 5, 2005
If the 2004 election did nothing else good, it inspired new political activists. These advocates took their "Anybody But Bush!" rallying cry to swing states around the country, making phone calls, showing up at polling places, and otherwise doing what they could to persuade voters to pick the other guy. Actor/playwright Dan Hoyle was one such volunteer. And he's transformed his bitterness and dashed hopes into his latest one-man production, Florida 2004: The Big Bummer. Here the joys and perils of door-to-door canvassing are transformed into a dance piece, and the dismal do that was Hoyle's pro-Kerry Election Night victory party is re-created in all its depressing glory. The show continues tonight at 8 (and runs through Feb. 26) at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 826-5750 or visit www.themarsh.org.

Sunday, February 6, 2005
San Francisco is a town simply loaded with interesting-looking people you'll probably never talk to. And why would you, really, since those folks -- those twins who dress alike and stroll around Union Square, the guy who walks 10 dogs every day in the park near your house, that odd individual who masquerades as a bush at the Wharf to freak out tourists -- could turn out to be weirdos you'd later wish you hadn't invited into your life. Get a stalker's-eye view of them instead at "SF Faces 2.0," an exhibition of hundreds of portraits of locals, among them musicians, hotel doormen, bartenders, panhandlers, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who collectively form a snapshot of our city right now. See if you recognize the people in your neighborhood as the display continues through April 30 at the Hotel des Arts, 447 Bush (at Grant), S.F. Admission is free; call 505-4734 or visit www.startsoma.com.

Monday, February 7, 2005
The current presidential administration seems to have a view of oil consumption that's similar to a boozer's attitude toward a bottle of hooch -- keep on consuming no matter what the costs. And in the sobering documentary Oil on Ice those costs seem very dear indeed. The film takes on the Bushies' proposal to open up the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil companies, providing vivid pictures of the natural life such a decision could threaten -- caribou, polar bears, foxes, and the native people who depend on these migratory animals. When viewed against that backdrop, the movie's other focus -- examples of America's reluctance to slant transportation and energy policies toward conservation -- comes off as doubly grim. Leave the SUV in the garage and see Oil on Ice tonight at 7:15 or 9:15 at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 668-3994 or visit www.redvicmoviehouse.com.

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