This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, May 4, 2005
It beats us why anyone else likes Bright Eyes. Bandleader Conor Oberst, to put it mildly, is no opera singer, and he's also self-obsessed, unashamed of his drug abuse, and whiny. It so happens that we adore this kind of yelper, but we've always thought of ourselves as part of a very select group. Even so, legions of teens all over the world have pushed Bright Eyes to the top of the pop charts, where the group competes with mainstream acts for world domination. Two simultaneously released albums, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, have done extremely well. We're holding out hope that the young band continues to put out the nasally, broken-stringed-guitar-pounding music we, uh, all love so much. The Faint shares the stage and Her Space Holiday opens at 8 p.m. at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St. (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $25; visit www.saddle-creek.com.

Thursday, May 5, 2005
Cinco de Mayo is much more than an excuse to knock back tequila and extol the virtues of the Mission District burrito -- though we do encourage you to drink at least one margarita today. The holiday actually commemorates a battle at which the citizens of Puebla defended themselves against a foreign invasion by French soldiers. The 2005 Cinco de Mayo Celebrationhonors this historic event with a daylong fiesta. Beginning with an Aztec blessing from the Xiuhcoatl dance troupe, the party continues with a multicultural children's parade and music from Mariachi Mexicanisimo and the drum-and-dance ensemble Loco Bloco. Wave your sombrero from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Parque de Los Niños, 23rd Street between Folsom and Treat, S.F. Admission is free; call 206-0577 or visit www.cincodemayosf.com.

Friday, May 6, 2005
It's unlikely, but not out of the question: The setup for David Gow's play Cherry Docs involves a self-satisfied liberal Jewish attorney and his assignment to defend a Nazi skinhead who has murdered an Asian man by kicking him to death with the titular steel-toed boots. The two-person drama takes an unflinching look at questions of justice and hatred. Actor Eric Rhys Miller and Traveling Jewish Theater Artistic Director Aaron Davidman bring the roles to life under the direction of Naomi Newman, as TJT closes its 26th season. Tonight's preview begins at 8 (the show continues through June 5) at Traveling Jewish Theater, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), S.F. Admission is $12-35; call 285-8282 or visit www.atjt.com.

Saturday, May 7, 2005
Despite its spicy title, Orgasm! The Faces of Ecstasy is not pornography. It's a film featuring footage of people getting off, with tons of masturbation and some actual knocking of boots, made by Good Vibrations founder Joani Blank. So why isn't it rated X? All of the above scenes involve images of people shot only from the shoulders up. The title is literal: All we see are participants' grimaces, smiles, and half-closed eyes. The event is part of Good Vibes' celebration of National Masturbation Month. At this screening, Blank and film subject Carol Queen are on hand (if that's the phrase) to answer questions at 5 p.m. at the Parkway Theater, 1834 Park (at Lake Merritt), Oakland. Admission is $8; call (510) 814-2400 or visit www.goodvibes.com.

Sunday, May 8, 2005
For those of us who grew up eating vegetables that were either frozen or canned, it's no wonder we shifted the flavorless offenders around on our plates till they were mush, hoping no one would notice that we hadn't eaten any. Of course, someone always did -- usually eagle-eyed Mom -- but since she was a hippie she never forced us to swallow the inedible goop. Make Ma proud on her day (you did send her a Mother's Day card, didn't you?) by cleaning your plate at the "Spring Breakfast by the Bay," a seasonal feast of just-laid eggs and farm-fresh produce like fava beans and strawberries prepared by the Hayes Street Grill. All proceeds benefit the folks who put on the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, so eat all your veggies -- happily -- at 9 a.m. on the south side of the Ferry Building, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is $15-45; call 291-3276 or visit www.cuesa.org.

Monday, May 9, 2005
Did you even know there was a "Short Film" Oscar category? We learned this only recently. We hope you're more savvy than we are, and will know straight away that a program of "Academy Award Nominated Shorts" is a sure thing. Live-action winner Wasp is a romantic drama about a young mother and an old flame; the animated awardee, Ryan, is an odd and innovative-looking bit devoted to Canadian artist Ryan Larkin. The nominees (all right, the losers, but they're still impressive) in both categories screen as well at 7:15 and 9:25 p.m. through May 12 at the Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 668-3994 or visit www.redvicmoviehouse.com.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
At the exhibition "all in electric lights," William Swanson's paintings look like uninhabited planets waiting for superhero invasions. Recalling graphic designs of the early 1960s, they feature opaque swaths of trompe l'oeil cutouts curving around one another. Many of Swanson's figures seem to be allusions to space cruisers and slightly abstracted moon stations, sitting in landscapes with retro colors and psychedelic perspective lines. Here and there you'll notice a recognizable sunburst or flower, but most of these abstracts build a mood without literal references. For this exhibit, the artist has also created a site-specific installation, working directly on the gallery walls, which sounds well-suited to his rangy, cool style. The show continues through June 11 at the Heather Marx Gallery, 77 Geary (at Grant), Second Floor, S.F. Admission is free; call 627-9111 or visit www.heathermarxgallery.com.


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