This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, November 30, 2005
It's like someone threw the New Pornographers out of the house and made them live on the street for a year or so. Very little of the smoothness and sonic optimism remains, but the Joggers have a lot of the same herky-jerky time changes and similarly innovative guitar work as the Canadian supergroup. And the hooks, dear Lord, the hooks. Nonchalant but secretly complex vocal harmonies also characterize the group's new album, With a Cape and a Cane, and indie rock, it seems, rides again. Hot Hot Heat fans, right this way, please. GoGoGo Airheart and the Junior Panthers share the stage at 9 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $8; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.

Thursday, December 1, 2005
Arabic calligraphy fused with graffiti, portraits of jazz musicians, bamboo carving, and Hopi Katsina work coexist at "Ten Years ofAlarm," which tells you something about the range of art the magazine embraces. The publication also covers music, with an equally broad taste. We're excited about the locals the mag has included in this retrospective exhibit: "Mission School" muralist Alicia McCarthy and accordion maven/former Burning Man pyrotechnics director Kimric Smythe contribute to the show, along with a lengthy and seriously high-quality roster of other Alarm-ists. The opening reception starts at 5 p.m. (and the exhibit continues through Dec. 31) at 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 974-1719 or visit www.alarmpress.com.

Friday, December 2, 2005
Michael Thrush's It's What's for Dinner is the perfect post-Thanksgiving treat for bitter vegetarians, deer hunters, and the avant-garde: It's an oil-on-canvas reproduction of Rockwell's Freedom From Want, with all those joyous goddamn kids leaning over the table, but in this case, Grandma's not holding a turkey, but rather the carcass of Bambi's mom. And Bambi is there as well, next to the kids, the only animal duly horrified by what's on the table. Thrush doesn't pull any punches in "Love and Other Natural Disasters," an exhibition featuring more than 15 works that thrash our popular icons. Cereal With Teeth Fetish has Tony the Tiger and various other breakfast-food characters attacking the inside of a mouth, and Milk Thugs reveals Barbie spread-eagled on a car, with Pokey at the wheel. The show continues through Jan. 7, 2006, at the Rx Gallery, 132 Eddy (at Mason), S.F. Admission is free; call 474-7973 or visit www.rxgallery.com.

Saturday, December 3, 2005
Before Frank Chu, San Francisco had another well-known and well-liked eccentric. He was Joshua Norton -- or, as he called himself, Emperor Norton I, Sovereign Ruler of the United States and Protector of Mexico. He made his mark during the 1850s, and according to many contemporary accounts, he was a very sweet guy, with people and with his two dogs, Bummer and Lazarus. Now he's a play, Emperor Norton: A New Musical, by the equally eccentric Ohanneson family. Director Jim Fourniadis Ohanneson tells us that a preview was staged for and enjoyed by the Northern California Concierge Association. We're not sure what that means, but he also says the motley cast and crew have recorded a soundtrack CD that's available at the performances. See Norton Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m., through Jan. 29, 2006, at the Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is $15; call 401-7987 or visit www.darkroomsf.com.

Sunday, December 4, 2005
It's a sad truth of craft fairs: Everything looks cooler when you're given the chance to cozy up to the artist, or when you can check out the tools of the trade lying next to the work (doubly so when those tools are being wielded to finish up your very own piece). But your precious item, given as a gift and removed from that context, might end up in Mom's hall closet. Get your fair fix and pick up a quality piece at "Deco the Halls," an art deco and modernism holiday sale featuring accessories, pottery, glass, clothing, and collectibles. And what's a deco fair without a vintage fashion show and swing dancing? Doors open at 11 a.m. at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St. (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $9; call (650) 599-3320 or visit www.artdecosale.com.

Monday, December 5, 2005
Hella Winston set out to take an honest look at the Hasidim, a famously insular sect of Judaism. Criticized for everything from the peyos (long sideburns) of the men to the requirements concerning women's comportment, Hasidic Jews became a fascinating subject for this bright doctoral candidate in sociology. Resolving to be more open-minded than others before her, Winston secured a meeting with several women from the Hasidic Satmar community. They seemed confident, positive, and healthy. But one of them opened up more than the others, alerting the author to the possibility that suicide rates were high, among other concerns. This led to the writing of Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels, a highly readable and solidly researched chronicle of people who choose to break the rules, and what it means for them to do so. Winston reads at 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times Books, 888 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-9246 or visit www.mtbs.com.

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