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
Josh Kornbluth has played out his existential confusion over the years in the most public of ways. And were extremely lucky for that. The performer has used stage and film to provide that rare mix of humor thats so true it hurts (literally, from laughing) while also being so true it stays with you and promotes your own introspection. We think of him as a West Coast version of Spalding Gray, minus the tragic ending. In one of his early monologues and films, Haiku Tunnel, he struggles to balance his life as a would-be novelist (renting a one-car garage in San Francisco as an apartment) with the need for a paycheck (a new job as a legal assistant in a big law firm). Disaster duels with humor for the lead role. In a more recent work, Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?, he puts on a gray wig and examines a series of the Pop artists portraits of well-known Jews including Einstein, Kafka, and Gertrude Stein. There he confronted another issue: his religion. In Josh Kornbluth Wrestles the Big Questions, he recounts how hed spent his life firmly planted in the secular world, not having a bar mitzvah and never having attended synagogue. But the Warhol project led him to ponder his Jewish identity and now he reports religious-minded acts such as reading the Torah to his son. He appears with Rabbi Menachem Creditor, whose unusual surname might sound like a Kornbluth character but as far as we can tell is a real person with a real congregation. Kornbluth reports that hes proud to be a Jew and totally confused about what that means. Lucky us.
Tue., March 22, 7 p.m., 2011