This Week's Day by Day Picks

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Modern-day Nellie Bly Barbara Ehrenreich got down on her hands and knees and cleaned toilets as research for her best-selling exposé of the world of the working poor, Nickel and Dimed. She reports that she enjoyed it more than the undercover work she did for her new book, Bait and Switch. Maids and waitresses are nicer than the white-collar unemployed, it seems. But the book lays the blame for the ill temper of the college-educated, positive-thinking, nice-résumé-possessing masses not on their own failure to "project a winning attitude." Instead, Ehrenreich places it squarely at the feet of irresponsible companies, psychological manipulation (there's a special place in hell for the Myers-Briggs test, she insinuates), and the "transition industry." Naturally, she somehow makes it all funny and hopeful. Hear her read 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 22, 2005
OK, seriously, someone around here is brilliant. Tina Gordon, we're looking at you. Gordon's creation, "The Rambler 12-Hour Composition," according to sponsoring entity StonerRock.com, is "a live performance concept soundscape which seeks to answer the question, What does light sound like?'" Get a load of the execution: Upon the autumnal equinox, musicians from many awesome local bands like Comets on Fire, Neurosis, and Hightower shall clamber aboard the "custom music environment" and play in homage to the power of sunlight, hoping to reflect its different intensities with their guitars, sitars, cellos, and percussive bits. Interested parties can follow along on bicycles, or attend one of the three stops on this epic tour. This, people, is rock 'n' roll. "The Rambler" starts off from Warm Water Cove (aka Tire Beach, 24th Street at Michigan) at dawn, travels to Twin Peaks at noon, and culminates at sundown on Ocean Beach (at Noriega), S.F. Admission is free; call (510) 282-8043.

Friday, September 23, 2005
The story behind "The Excavation Project" is startling: While breaking ground for the construction of a casino complex, workers discovered a lost civilization, and a team of artists and scientists were sent in to sort out its mysteries. Um, OK -- the story is made up. But some local artists have re-created and interpreted the "artifacts," and it sounds like the metropolis was quite a place. Among the more fascinating items are Rita DiLorenzo's bags crocheted from yarn spun from wool and human hair, Jeff Ray's large plywood musical boat, Randy Colsky's objects made out of a dead ficus tree from his front yard, and Tara Foley's paintings of a forgotten city based on bee culture. The exhibition runs through Oct. 16 at the Low Gallery, 487 14th St. (at Guerrero), S.F. Admission is free; visit www.lowgallery.com.

Saturday, September 24, 2005
Listening to the Roots of Orchis' "Any Way You Flee," from 2004's Crooked Ceilings, it's easy to imagine yourself as a dashing cinematic criminal, planning and executing, in a slick montage, a ridiculously complicated international jewelry heist wearing Italian finery, your cool demeanor betrayed only by a single bead of sweat dropping in exquisite slow motion as you board a plane to the Maldives. It's also good for ripping a few bowls and tripping out, with its smoothly rocking instrumental grooves, full of dripping keyboards and pervasive, steady cymbals. Although the Roots of Orchis has clearly set up shop in the lounge, there's enough electronic wizardry to keep it firmly in the moment. The similarly big-screened sound of the Portland, Ore., quintet Adelaide kicks off the show at 8 p.m. at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $7; call 647-2888 or visit www.makeoutroom.com.

Sunday, September 25, 2005
Can you not eat meat and still have fun? We can't. But, once again, we are ready to be swayed by the World Vegetarian Day Celebration, which combines education and entertainment in the hopes that people like us will just fucking listen. Notable speakers include Howard Lyman, a fourth-generation rancher (now retired) and inside expert on the crap that goes into livestock; Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of PETA; and our favorite arborist, Julia Butterfly Hill. Also enjoy plenty of food demos and music, such as jazz from the Rob Schaaf Duo, guitar from Eric Park, and funk/experimental reggae from Zion Tribe. It all starts at 10 a.m. in Golden Gate Park, County Fair Building, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln, S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 273-5481 or visit www.sfvs.org.

Monday, September 26, 2005
Sparrow is a bit of a legend in New York. From meditating at high-traffic landmarks to challenging Bob Dole for the 1996 presidential nomination (missed that one, huh?), he's a veteran muckraker and an aficionado of the gonzo stunt (such as picketing the New Yorker over its poetry coverage). His previous book, Yes, You Are a Revolutionary!, included recipes for making ice and poems about the Celibate Olympics and a basil-filled football. He returns with America: A Prophecy, another assemblage of curious bits, among them a chronicle of passages from his reading over a year. Naturally, he reads only magazines out of the trash, whatever the date. He appears with Stephen Elliot, who discusses his account of the 2004 presidential campaign, Looking Forward to It, at 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-9246 or visit www.mtbs.com.

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