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This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Bee Lavender's first mark on the literary scene was her writing in Hip Mama, a hipster parenting zine that proved to gals like us that we could be punk rock and change diapers. But her new autobiography, Lessons in Taxidermy, reveals there's much more to this survivor than extreme motherhood. Here are just some of the characteristic moments from her dramatic life: skin and throat cancer, pregnancy and childbirth, a horrific car accident in which she sustains multiple injuries -- all before she graduates from high school. Through it all, Lavender delivers a clear-eyed perspective and keen insights. Lauren Sanders also reads at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit

Thursday, April 28, 2005
The term "furniture dancing" conjures up many images, from gleeful bed-jumping pillow fights to poking a lover on the kitchen table. But Deborah Slater Dance Theater's latest program, "Furniture Dances," puts a much more cultured slant on our childish ideas. Slater has invited a cross-section of local artists to create pieces performed on or inspired by furniture, ensuring some fairly interesting setups. With acts that range from modern danseuse Patricia Jiron to tap dancer John Kloss, the show could present lithe bodies wrapping themselves like pretzels around three-legged tables and lots of clicking and clacking on bentwood chairs. At least, we hope it does. "Dances" begins at 8 p.m. at the ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $12-18; call 863-9834 or visit

Friday, April 29, 2005
As goofy, unpretentious, talent-packed variety shows go, "Be'er Now" has the highest grades in its class. Not only does it have a good-hearted pun right in the name, but it's also a benefit for the Zen Hospice Project, and it boasts something no stage has seen in a long time: Dammit the Wonder Dog, proud owner of shit-disturbing showman Chicken John. This high-IQ duo's act is bound to feature one of them jumping around at the command of the other, but who's to say who wears the pants in that family? In addition to Chicken and Dammit, the evening includes the jaw-dropping lineup of disrespectful accordion gang Polkacide, aerialists the Starlings, contortionist Leslie Tipton, and Sister of Ceremonies MaryMae Himm of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Buddhist beer-drinking starts at 8 at Broadway Studios, 435 Broadway (at Columbus), S.F. Admission is $12-15 (donations above $15 are tax deductible); call 648-4112 or visit

Saturday, April 30, 2005
Our steamy but sweet fantasies of soulful early-1960s amour now have a soundtrack: Lord Loves a Working Man. The band's got a deep brass section anchored by Freddi Price, keyboards happy under the expert hands of Rob Reich, and throbbing guitars manned by Max Baloian, who reportedly conducts using the neck of his axe. These men pour their hearts out in songs that make audience members alternately work up a sweat and hold each other very, very close. But the group's molten center -- the knife in its teeth and the sauce on its meat -- is vocalist Ben Flax, a sugar-dipped, testifying, moaning danger to happy marriages everywhere. Drawing inspiration from vintage R&B and various soul shouters, Lord celebrates the release of its eponymous full-length recording tonight; Harold Ray Live in Concert and Brian Kenney Fresno share the stage at 9 at 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $8; call 970-9777 or visit

Sunday, May 1, 2005
Traditionally, International Workers' Day is celebrated via bombastic marches and long-winded speeches. But as the fun-loving folks who run the new performance venue Counterpulse explain on their Web site, they've "chosen the radical people's holiday of May Day to celebrate the birth of a new community art space." Sounds like a party to us. The artist-run group is an outgrowth of the now-closed 848 Community Space, and is marking its move with a new name and a balls-out bash. The "Counterpulse Opening Party" features politically charged entertainment from the revolutionary all-vocal trio Samsara and the Brass Liberation Orchestra, as well as tunes from the Conspiracy of Beards, an all-male a cappella troupe that croons Leonard Cohen songs. The merriment begins at 8 p.m. at Counterpulse, 1310 Mission (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 626-2060 or visit

Monday, May 2, 2005
Every villain has a secret weapon. Ours is a poison pen. But for the blind scoundrel in the martial arts action flick Master of the Flying Guillotine, it's a hat-shaped device with retractable blades that is hurled at a combatant's head, resulting in a quick, fuss-free decapitation. A new uncut print of this kung fu classic, which counts Quentin Tarantino among its biggest fans, stars the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu as a one-armed boxer, the intended victim of this murderous contraption. Described by the New York Times as a "delectable cheese fest," the film should provide lots of sliced-and-diced corpses, fantastical costumes, and kung-pow sound effects; it screens at 7 and 9:15 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Admission is $5.50-8.50; call 621-6120 or visit

Tuesday, May 3, 2005
We've always imagined that if we watch enough telenovelas, our horrible high school Spanish will morph into lilting tones that would make any native speaker swoon. Though we have yet to roll our r's in anyone's ear, we like the idea of learning a language through pop culture. At "Manga Mania," author Wayne Lammers suggests that reading Japanese comics is a practical way to learn the country's notoriously hard language. His "real manga, real Japanese" approach uses published comic strips to teach basic pronunciation and grammar. Host Patrick Macias also interviews Frederik Schodt, who wrote Manga! Manga!, about the art form's U.S. explosion. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Japan Society of Northern California, 312 Sutter (at Grant), Second Floor, S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 986-4383 or visit to RSVP.

Calendar submissions can be mailed or delivered to 185 Berry, Suite 3800, San Francisco, CA 94107; faxed to 777-1839; or e-mailed to at least two weeks in advance of your event. Earlier is, as always, better than later. We make every effort to include all appropriate events in our online listings, available at


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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