San Francisco does not have the greatest track record when it comes to presidents. In 1923, President Warren G. Harding, by all accounts something of a jackass, keeled over at the Palace Hotel. In 1975, President Gerald Ford narrowly missed a bullet fired by Sarah Jane Moore in front of the St. Francis Hotel. In 2015, former President Jimmy Carter is visiting Books Inc. to sign copies of his autobiography, A Full Life, so we all need to be on our best behavior, everybody. Do not ask Carter to snap a selfie with you, do not ask him to sign a can of Billy Beer, do not impress him with your Saturday Night Fever dance moves. And Jimmy, maybe avoid The City's luxury hotels.
The former leader of the free world is appearing at 4:30 p.m. at Books Inc., 601 Van Ness Ave., S.F. Free; booksinc.net. More
Webster's dictionary defines neon as "a chemical element with symbol Ne and atomic number 10." And while that's true, there's much more to this rare element than a name and a number. For example, signs. Neon signs represent something in the imagination, particularly in the iconography of the American city. Without these late-night, back-alley beacons, how would we navigate our urban underworld? How would we know where to drink, to catch a late-night sex show, to have our palms read? Neon, lighter than air, occupies a space in San Francisco's urban history, and that's being celebrated with an illustrated talk by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, authors of San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons, followed by a screening of The Lady from Shanghai. The 1947 film noir stars Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, and San Francisco's neon-drenched Chinatown.
The lights go on at 6:30 p.m. at the Vogue Theatre, 3290 Sacramento St., S.F. $12-$15; 415-346-2228 or cinemasf.com/vogue. More
The Mexican supermarket is comedian Stephen Furey's Disneyland. The candy is weird, there's a dude selling corn from a cart, the expiration date on the meat just says "mañana" — ¡Es una aventura! The Sacramento comedian does not exactly live large (he once contemplated fighting a dog for a three-legged couch), but he does live funny. Furey, who co-hosts the Belligerently Uninformed podcast with Emma Haney, does observational humor about everyday situations. Well, everyday situations for the kind of guy who enjoys hanging out in McDonald's ball pits. Ask him why!
Stephen Furey performs at 8 p.m. at the Punch Line Comedy Club at 444 Battery St., S.F. $15; punchlinecomedyclub.com. More
Starting a punk band in 1977, in Northern Ireland, right in the middle of one of the most violent and politically fraught periods in the country's history, takes guts, resilience, and just a soupçon of crazy. Continuing to play in that band nearly 40 years later, however, is almost completely insane — or rather it would be if Stiff Little Fingers didn't still have such a huge and dedicated following and such large, still-untapped reserves of rage. The band's 10th album, 2014's righteous and critically acclaimed No Going Back, stands as proof that the Belfast quartet still have plenty to say for themselves. With an energetic live show that isn't afraid to hark back to the band's earliest albums as well, this is sure to be a riot for new- and old-school fans alike.More
Before setting pen to paper, Sin Nombre writer-director Cary Joji Fukunaga purportedly rode the rails in the company of real illegal immigrants traveling from Mexico to the U.S. But from the looks of it, he spent even more time studying Brazilian director Fernando Meirelless slicked-up slum porn City of God: diminutive kids with gunscheck; carefully lit and art-directed shantytownscheck; doomed teen romanceyep, that too. In fairness, Fukunagas film isnt quite as ostentatiously vulgar as Meirelless: Its loftier aspirations are obvious from the opening shot of El Casper (Edgar Flores), a young initiate in the fact-based Mara Salvatrucha gang, staring fixedly at a photo enlargement of a leafy wooded landscapea signal flare (along with his teardrop tattoo) that hes really a soulful poet-dreamer trapped in a violent existence. After his girlfriend is raped and murdered by the gangs more elaborately tattooed leader, Casper makes a break for it, hopping the same U.S.-bound freight train on which Honduran teen Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) and her father are heading to the promised land. Meanwhile, Caspers best friend, Smiley (pint-sized Kristian Ferrer), is dispatched to track the fugitive downhmmm, do you think these two amigos will find their personal loyalty tested by obeisance to La Mara? Lushly photographed and meticulously sound-designed, Sin Nombre is visceral without being vital, researched without ever seeming lived-in. The best that can be said is that its a more honest film on the subject of immigration than the recent Crossing Overbut then again, so is Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
Starts: April 3. Daily, 2009