My bicycle sits in a dusty corner of the garage, attached to garden implements by the late-stage webbing of several fat spiders. But I'm squarely with cyclists, politically. (I'll join them athletically when I move off a hill you can yodel from.) Naturally, this makes me a hypocrite, but it's the least of my hypocrisies, one that I can safely ignore while praising the organizers of the Bicycle Film Festival, which features dozens of movies championing all aspects of the craft, with a smart emphasis on urban cycling culture.
Messenger, a slick day-in-the-life short about New York City's Alfred Bobe Jr., combines a romantic portrait of the city with harrowing street-riding and hip hop beats. Bobe's life looks alluring -- until you realize he pedals 70 to 80 miles a day. Less taxing and more illegal is Black Label Club's get-wasted-and-ride event featured in Bike Kill; indeed, unsanctioned "alleycat" races appear in many of these films, wherein riders dole out heart attacks to unsuspecting pedestrians and motorists alike. In Bomb Bay, San Francisco's Ted Shred tackles steep hills on a brakeless bike, which he slows by jamming his foot, sheathed in a Vans slip-on, against the wheel. It's never really clear why he does this, but he looks pretty cool doing it.
Tight-pant cyclists won't want to miss 1973's stunning A Sunday in Hell, a documentary about the infamous Paris-Roubaix road race, which starts off on regular paved streets before veering, incredibly, onto cobblestone-and-dirt cattle paths, where it stays for much of the event. Predictably, many riders take headers and emerge from the dust bloody and cursing. The fest's opening-night party, with music by Gang Gang Dance, Tussle, and more, starts Wednesday at 8:30 at the Independent in S.F. Admission is $10-12. Films show Friday and Saturday at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $10; call 863-7576 or visit www.bicyclefilmfestival.com for more info.
-- Michael Leaverton
Soil Your Pants
Will Franken has a knack for making people squeamish -- the time he used a crucifix as a junkie's hypodermic needle did it for me. Will the comedian ever be ready for prime time? Find out as he takes the stage in broad daylight, outside, in a park, with children in attendance and dogs frolicking nearby -- and surely more than one grandmother in the crowd -- at the annual Comedy Day, along with as many as 30 other stand-ups, such as Greg Proops, Will Durst, and Al Madrigal. The event starts at noon in Golden Gate Park's Sharon Meadow, Kezar & John F. Kennedy, S.F. Admission is free; visit www.comedyday.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
The Life Aquatic
In a witty take on Fleet Week, the nice people at the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association are celebrating the bay's "fleet" of white sharks. The group's Shark Mobile features full-size models of the creatures -- and their favorite food, elephant seals. But the event also has gourmet, sustainably farmed seafood, vegetarian treats, and other fun stuff. They're calling it a "feeding frenzy," but promise that humans will be feeding, not feed. Ocean Fest 2005 starts at 11 a.m. at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center, Building 991, Crissy Field, Halleck & Mason (in the Presidio), S.F. Admission is free; call 561-6625 or visit www.farallones.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
The Blue Angels have always been the premier event at Fleet Week -- along with the primary source of controversy, as the sight of military jets skirting buildings doesn't always sit well with locals. But this year, they face a new detractor: the Red Bull Air Race, in which prop planes race one another around large pylons floating in the bay. In contrast to other Fleet Week events, notably the parade of ships, the only attraction here is speed. Fleet Week starts at noon on Thursday, and the Red Bull Air Race starts at 1 p.m. on Friday, along the S.F. waterfront. Spectating is free; call (650) 599-5057 or visit www.fleetweek.us.
-- Michael Leaverton
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