Quick: Name a place in SOMA where you can find a pingpong table (besides the Twitter offices, that is). You probably wouldn't expect the answer to be a museum, but the atrium of this one is equipped with regulation tables and equipment available for checkout, free to anyone who wants to play. It's part of "The Ping Pong Project," an installation that celebrates post-World War I Jewish table tennis greats such as Austrian Richard Bergmann (famous for playing dressed to the nines in snazzy suits) and Polish legend Alojzy Ehrlich. Ehrlich is known for a single exchange he won during the 1936 World Games that lasted more than two hours before his opponent's arm finally gave out and his fame later kept him out of the gas chamber at Auschwitz when the Nazi guards recognized him. Authors Roger Bennett and Eli Horowitz tell stories like these and lots more in their presentation at Everything You Know Is Pong. Drawing from their recent book of the same name in which they explore the far-reaching influence of table tennis, Bennett and Horowitz share slides detailing the secret history of Jews and pingpong. After the talk, the lobby's tables are open for business, giving visitors a chance to show off their backspin pushes and drop shots against some of the Bay Area's star players. It's your chance to resurrect the moves you learned years ago in your uncle's basement.
Thu., April 14, 7 p.m., 2011