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 www.citylights.com.
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 www.bordersstores.com.
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 www.onsixgallery.com.
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 www.powertothepeaceful.org.
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 www.bimbos365club.com.
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 www.thefillmore.com.