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This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

Wednesday, Sep 7 2005
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Recent books like Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi and Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi have tipped us off: Iranian authors are hot, hot, hot! Seriously, such "flavor of the month" language would be a slap in the face to the courage of artists producing under a U.S.-embargoed Islamic dictatorship if deployed thoughtlessly, yes. But the fact remains that it's very exciting to realize the depth and breadth of literary endeavors coming out of a country so restricted by religious fundamentalism. Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature presents a collection -- or in Farsi, a golchine, or bouquet -- of examples. Hear editors Nahid Mozaffari and Ahmad Karimi Hakkak read at 7 p.m. at City Lights, 261 Columbus (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is free; call 362-8193 or visit

Thursday, September 8, 2005
Bret Easton Ellis has had a tough run as a writer, from being lumped in with 1980s novelists like Tama Janowitz (dear God) to being skewered for his graphic murder scenes in American Psycho ("the literary equivalent of a snuff flick," announced the Washington Post). But his work pulls through. Glamarama may have been a shambling beast of a novel, with a wildly implausible plot and lots of sex, death, lattes, and Prada, but it worked, often thrillingly, for those who forged through the mammoth book. Ellis didn't try to capture his vanished generation; he exhumed it, slapped it around, and tossed it off a cliff. Now he returns with Lunar Park, featuring the author himself as the main character and plenty of his trademark devices: murder, celebrities, and Xanax. He reads at 7:30 p.m. at Borders, 400 Post (at Powell), S.F. Admission is free; call 399-1633 or visit

Friday, September 9, 2005
Red Ink Studios has a delightful mission statement dedicating itself to the nomadic artist, the visionary who travels from place to place showing his work (Red Ink being one of those places, or, actually, three of them: The venue is quite large). Now the nomadic art viewer gets the same soft treatment at "Labyrinth," a group show thrown by Red Ink Studios, OnSix Gallery, and the Luggage Store, where "First Friday" folk can move among four spaces a half-block apart around Sixth and Market streets. Who's appearing? More than 60 artists working in many genres, from painting and photography to video and ceramics, as well DJs and live music by the Grails, Saros, and Obelisk. "Labyrinth" opens at 7 p.m. at OnSix Gallery, 60 Sixth St. (at Jessie), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-1221 or visit

Saturday, September 10, 2005
There are plenty of good reasons to go to the outdoor fest 911 Power to the Peaceful. First, there's the peace, and more power to you if that gets you out of bed. Then there are the performers and speakers, such as Michael Franti & Spearhead, Angela Davis, and the highly amusing Woody Harrelson. But you rapscallions out there won't want to miss skateboarder Danny Way riding the "eco" ramp, built from certified wood. Way, you undoubtedly know, aired over the Great Wall of China last July using his self-designed, nine-story-tall Megaramp. He is the inventor and king of big-air skateboarding, taking the sport in mysterious directions. Catch him on a much smaller hunk of wood, and enjoy a day of music and peace, starting at 11 a.m. in Golden Gate Park's Speedway Meadow, JFK & 28th Avenue, S.F. Admission is free; call 865-2170 or visit

Sunday, September 11, 2005
What a smoothie: Bebel Gilberto's bossa nova style comes partly from her ultrafamous father, João, but on her latest solo effort, the lady is said to have truly come into her own. Not that her first record, Tanto Tempo, wasn't an instant classy cocktail-lounge staple, but the new eponymous CD finds fewer synthesizers, more acoustic instrumentation, and best of all, Gilberto's own songwriting on nine out of the 12 tracks. Adored for updating her family's traditional, sultry sound without a trace of disrespect, she's also often compared favorably to Portishead or Everything But the Girl. Fans will have already noticed that the new album, Bebel Gilberto, has been given the fancy remix treatment, but the live experience is always best. Brazilian-diva lovers rejoice, starting at 8 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), S.F. Admission is $28; call 474-0365 or visit

Monday, September 12, 2005
The Decemberists are having us on. "We Both Go Down Together," from the band's recent Picaresque, features a doomed love affair (double suicide) between a "dirty daughter from the labor camps" and a rich, classist creep. It screams out for a feminist reading, and, surely, that's the subtext -- these Decemberists are immensely literate folk, tossing around archaic 50-cent words while singing songs of barons and barrow boys. Deadpan delivery is the norm, from the spot-on "Lust for Life"-style drums that open "The Sporting Life" to the track's tale of a boy athlete failing the team. Basically, if you lowered Colin Meloy's voice a few octaves and added a zinging guitar, "Sporting" could be a Smiths tribute song -- if it isn't already. Wear your finery as Sons & Daughters and Petra Haden & the Sellouts open at 8 p.m. at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore), S.F. Admission is $20; call 346-6000 or visit

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Entering a gallery and facing a wall-size photograph is a disorienting pleasure, especially when you encounter a piece with serious resolution. Viewing Doug Hall's 5-foot-wide digital prints of tourist sites, plazas, and the American west is to become immersed, gazing at the grandeur along with the accumulated crowds that typically pop up in his work. Mount Rushmore 2004, for instance, is not just a picture of our stone-face presidents; it's a picture of people taking pictures of our presidents, exactly like Hall, and it's just as enjoyable to pore over the throng as it is to stand in dutiful awe at the looming ghosts. "Photographs" runs through Oct. 8 at the Rena Bransten Gallery, 77 Geary (at Grant), S.F. Admission is free; call 982-3292 or visit

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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Michael Leaverton


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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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