This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Andrew Sean Greer's The Confessions of Max Tivoli provided a startling look at the history of our city, from the glitz of South Park to the destruction of downtown after the 1906 earthquake. The book also had a bit about a man living backward, which, frankly, could only happen in San Francisco. Michael Chabon, meanwhile, is living in Berkeley, hammering out quality novels that you could center a contemporary literature class around (including the Pulitzer winner The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay). What do these two authors have in common, other than the fact that they don't have new books out? They're both Picador writers, and the publishing house is celebrating its 10th birthday with appearances by the pair starting at 7 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Golden Gate), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit www.bookstore.com.

Thursday, September 15, 2005
In the Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster, Lars Ulrich was the little angry one, James Hetfield was the large angry one, and Kirk Hammett was the content, quiet one. Sure, he threw a little tantrum about wanting to play leads again like in the good old days, but on the whole he seemed very satisfied with sitting back and collecting that Metallica money. Now he steps out on his own, bringing his soothing presence (and surely lots of leads) to the classical stage for the "Morrison Artists Series Golden Anniversary Gala Concert," where he'll be performing improvised electric guitar with the FLUX Quartet in a work called "SAS," written by FLUX's experimental violinist, Thomas Chiu. Also on the bill is the St. Lawrence String Quartet, which will be performing a Golijov number with S.F. Symphony bassist Stephen Tramontozzi, starting at 8:30 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $28-54; call 338-1358 or visit www.morrisonseries.org.

Friday, September 16, 2005
Among the hordes of nouveau carnival esque performers hopping around this city, a few stand head and shoulders above the rest: Dr. Hal, Harlem Shake Burlesque, Rube Waddell, the Yo-Yo King. Paul Nathan is one of these, no doubt about it. His fascination with romanticized characters from an imagined past -- in this case, he plays a cardsharp named Jack Swindle -- is matched by a sleight-of-hand skill level that makes it all legit. Devil in the Deck tells Swindle's story, accompanied by John Anaya's live guitar, a host of original stories pulled from Nathan's own offbeat life, and tons of seemingly impossible card tricks. The show must go on at 8 p.m. (and continuing weekends through Oct. 2) at the Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 364-1411 or visit www.devilinthedeck.com.

Saturday, September 17, 2005
So many times, festivals are insular. Whether it's a film series, some sort of art conglomeration, or a group of musical events, birds of a feather don't fall far from the tree, or however that goes. But at "A Mighty Ruckus at Islais Creek," hybridization seems to be the name of the game: Musicwise, the lineup goes from electronic crunch (F Space) to glammed-out cuteness (Plastination) to good old surf gee-tar (The Copper Tones), reaching its apotheosis in Smash Up Derby, a live mash-up band. The Ruckus colors outside the lines with its own definition, too, boasting films from Microcinema and the Found Footage Fest as well as visual art displays. And it's all happening in Bayshore, which organizers describe as an "industrial-fabulous district." Insert earplugs at noon at the Bay Area Motor Club, 1598 Custer (at Rankin), S.F. Admission is free; visit www.sfindie.com/ruckus.

Sunday, September 18, 2005
Organizers of the huge "Folk to Folk: From the Bay to the Vieux Carre" cobbled together their Katrina benefit with a speed that would shame FEMA director Michael Brown (not that he would notice). First, there are more than 20 music acts, from Southern-style jazz, big band, and blues to dance DJs. Then there are the tents, such as the Tent of Many Flowers (vegetation and cocktails), the Tent of Many Tastes (signature dishes from catering companies), and the Tent of Many Services (massage, psychics, and facials). Also on hand will be art for auction, and not trifling art-in-the-park depictions of the Transamerica Pyramid, but work by gallery heavyweights like Kim Frohsin. It's held on Treasure Island, which poses a question: How to get there? First, grab a cup of complimentary Starbucks, then board one of the free shuttles, which leave throughout the day from various locations. The event starts at 11 a.m. on the Great Lawn of Treasure Island, S.F. Admission is $10; visit www.folktofolksf.com.

Monday, September 19, 2005
The American Red Cross is a great organization. But one smart writer who toured the Gulf Coast immediately following Hurricane Katrina has organized a benefit for another group. Stephen Elliott, author of Happy Baby, turned in a series of reports on the Katrina aftermath for Salon between Sept. 2 and 5 from Biloxi, Miss. -- he probably knows what he's talking about. Tonight he co-hosts "A Special Benefit for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina," with proceeds going to the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Daphne Gottlieb, Truong Tran, Tom Barbash, Michelle Tea, and many others read and Matthew Iribarne co-hosts, starting at 7 p.m. at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 647-2888 or visit www.makeoutroom.com.

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