San Francisco does not have the greatest track record when it comes to presidents. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding, by all accounts something of a jackass, keeled over at the Palace Hotel. In 1975, President Gerald Ford narrowly missed a bullet fired by Sarah Jane Moore in front of the St. Francis Hotel. In 2015, former President Jimmy Carter is visiting Books Inc. to sign copies of his autobiography, A Full Life, so we all need to be on our best behavior, everybody. Do not ask Carter to snap a selfie with you, do not ask him to sign a can of Billy Beer, do not impress him with your Saturday Night Fever dance moves. And Jimmy, maybe avoid The City's luxury hotels.
The former leader of the free world is appearing at 4:30 p.m. at Books Inc., 601 Van Ness Ave., S.F. Free; booksinc.net. More
Webster's dictionary defines neon as "a chemical element with symbol Ne and atomic number 10." And while that's true, there's much more to this rare element than a name and a number. For example, signs. Neon signs represent something in the imagination, particularly in the iconography of the American city. Without these late-night, back-alley beacons, how would we navigate our urban underworld? How would we know where to drink, to catch a late-night sex show, to have our palms read? Neon, lighter than air, occupies a space in San Francisco's urban history, and that's being celebrated with an illustrated talk by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, authors of San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons, followed by a screening of The Lady from Shanghai. The 1947 film noir stars Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, and San Francisco's neon-drenched Chinatown.
The lights go on at 6:30 p.m. at the Vogue Theatre, 3290 Sacramento St., S.F. $12-$15; 415-346-2228 or cinemasf.com/vogue. More
The Mexican supermarket is comedian Stephen Furey's Disneyland. The candy is weird, there's a dude selling corn from a cart, the expiration date on the meat just says "mañana" — ¡Es una aventura! The Sacramento comedian does not exactly live large (he once contemplated fighting a dog for a three-legged couch), but he does live funny. Furey, who co-hosts the Belligerently Uninformed podcast with Emma Haney, does observational humor about everyday situations. Well, everyday situations for the kind of guy who enjoys hanging out in McDonald's ball pits. Ask him why!
Stephen Furey performs at 8 p.m. at the Punch Line Comedy Club at 444 Battery St., S.F. $15; punchlinecomedyclub.com. More
Starting a punk band in 1977, in Northern Ireland, right in the middle of one of the most violent and politically fraught periods in the country's history, takes guts, resilience, and just a soupçon of crazy. Continuing to play in that band nearly 40 years later, however, is almost completely insane — or rather it would be if Stiff Little Fingers didn't still have such a huge and dedicated following and such large, still-untapped reserves of rage. The band's 10th album, 2014's righteous and critically acclaimed No Going Back, stands as proof that the Belfast quartet still have plenty to say for themselves. With an energetic live show that isn't afraid to hark back to the band's earliest albums as well, this is sure to be a riot for new- and old-school fans alike.More
1499 Valencia St., 415-416-6136
While many restaurants seemingly do their part to hasten your death with inappropriately gargantuan portions of meat and hardly any vegetables, the new AL’s Place in the Mission offers a simple concept that might just extend your life expectancy.
In 1987, French-Senegalese writer Marie Ndiaye published a 100-page novel comprising a single sentence. Ndiaye's first work for the stage, Hilda, receiving its American premiere at ACT (translated by Erika Rundle), is essentially a play for a single actor masquerading as a three-person piece. Hilda centers on Mrs. Lemarchand, a bored and lonely upper-middle-class wife who pathologically strives to control the lives of those around her, namely that of her new maid, Hilda; Hilda's husband, Frank; and their family. Lemarchand dominates Ndiaye's drama. Exerting her will to possess and destroy through schizophrenic bouts of suffocating love and malicious blackmail, she's a sort of spiritual sister to psychotic fan Annie Wilkes in Stephen King's Misery. Her sheer immensity renders Ndiaye's intense psychosocial study a directorial challenge: When one character has most of the lines and virtually all of the action, what do you do with the other two bodies onstage? Unfortunately, director Carey Perloff opts for the bulldozer approach, making Marco Barricelli (as Frank) and Lauren Grace (as Hilda's sister Corinne) look like little more than bumps in the earth, easily flattened by Ellen Karas' rampaging Lemarchand. While Karas gets the full run of Donald Eastman's stark, white set to milk the madness of her character in perky twin-sets and pearls, Barricelli and Grace don't get to do much but stand inertly in the corner. The play's central themes of slavery and domination are powerfully conveyed by the absence of Hilda from the cast of characters in Ndiaye's text. Yet Frank and Corinne's essential passivity translates as callousness; they fail to resist Lemarchand (as if they don't care enough about Hilda to put up a fight), and so undermine our yearning to see the maid herself.