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Psych Art 

Zmijewski prods human nature

Wednesday, Nov 30 2005
WED 11/30

Psychologists walk a peculiar line between art and science. Like biologists and chemists, they use the scientific method; like painters and poets, they aim to uncover truths about human nature that laboratories could never produce. Case in point: Philip Zimbardo's famous Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971, which investigated the impact of putting good people (graduate students randomly assigned to role-play as prisoners and guards) in an evil situation (a simulated prison). When the fake guards started inflicting real abuse, the experiment, staged the same year as the Attica prison revolt, caught flak from ethicists and had to be cut short.

Polish artist Artur Zmijewski blurs the art/science boundary further with his Zimbardo-inspired documentary, Repetition. For the 39-minute hidden-camera film, Zmijewski recast Zimbardo's grad students with unemployed Polish men but retained the concept, and the experiment seems headed for the same result -- before a twist takes the film in a different direction.

For the first time, both Zmijewski and Zimbardo discuss the issues inherent in the two projects, at 6 tonight in the California College of the Arts' Timken Lecture Hall, 1111 Eighth St. (at Irwin), S.F. (The film screens in the college's Logan Galleries through Feb. 21, 2006.) Admission is free; call 551-9210 or visit
-- Maya Kroth

Happy 75th!
The sound of Sondheim

MON 12/5

Sure, he's known as the guy who wrote "Send in the Clowns," one of the most recorded -- and most schmaltzy -- songs in the history of easy listening. But Stephen Sondheim also wrote brilliant musicals centered on tricky, peculiar characters and plotlines: a barber who kills his customers and then has them made into meat pies (Sweeney Todd), Lee Harvey Oswald and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme (Assassins), and a high school reunion told in reverse (Merrily We Roll Along). The songs of such stories have not translated into choice elevator music. In fact, the lyric-packed shows come off like episodes of Gilmore Girls directed by Quentin Tarantino and set to music. Broadway and cabaret stars Lisa Vroman and Judy Butterfield join a host of other performers at "Simply Sondheim: A 75th Birthday Salute," at which they present some of Sondheim's most popular and least conventional tunes. The salute gets under way at 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California (at Presidio), S.F. Admission is $60; call 292-1233 or visit
-- Brock Keeling

Life Is ...
Come hear the band

ONGOING 12/2-1/15/06

Cabaret is less a musical than it is a winky, vaudevillian mise-en-scène of the Weimar era in all its artistic and political excess. The 1966 libretto by Joe Masteroff, based on a Christopher Isherwood book, sucks viewers into the slummy world of 1930s pre-Nazi Germany. The rollicking adaptation tells the tale of chanteuse Sally Bowles and her lover, Clifford Bradshaw; lounge lizards, Socialists, and whores add color to the smoky tableau, performed here by neighborhood thespians the Shotgun Players.

Cabaret opens at 8 p.m. on Friday (and continues through Jan. 15, 2006) at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby (at MLK Jr.), Berkeley. Tickets are "pay what you can"-$30 until Dec. 4 and $15-30 thereafter; call 841-6500 or visit
-- Nirmala Nataraj

Get in Line

FRI 12/2

Billy Crystal's solo play about himself, his family, and his penis, 700 Sundays, sold $593,120 worth of tickets in a single day, a first in San Francisco theater. Wisecracking storytellers may pack houses, but they also write books, and Crystal signs the text version of 700 at 12:30 p.m. at Cody's Books, 2 Stockton (at Ellis), S.F. Admission is free, and the volume must be purchased at the store; call 773-0444 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton

About The Author

Brock Keeling

About The Author

Maya Kroth

About The Author

Nirmala Nataraj

About The Author

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
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    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.

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