Vacant Lot Ira Nowinski's “No Vacancy” records the history of the Yerba Buena Redevelopment Area, documenting the lives of local residents and their efforts to organize and protect their homes against the S.F. Redevelopment Agency. Through archival photos taken in the late '60s by Redevelopment Agency staff, Nowinski re-creates the site where — irony of ironies — Center for the Arts, the home of this exhibition, now stands. Nowinski's own photos are of the people who lived in the neighborhood, the activist groups they formed, and the subcultures that evolved from their displacement. See “No Vacancy” from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. The exhibition continues through March 3. Admission is $2.50-5; call 978-2787.
It Has a Nice Rink to It Cranky Nancy, tough Tonya, and the Ukrainian little ostrich (Oksana Baiul) won't be there, but “Stars on Ice” still features a number of world-famous skaters. Raising funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the show includes performances by Olympic champions Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton, Katarina Witt, and world champion Kurt Browning. The jumps and spins start at 8 p.m. at Oakland Coliseum, I-880 & Hegenberger, Oakland. Tickets are $27.50-39.50; call (510) 762-2277.
Hot Rod Hellcats Based on America's love affair with the automobile, Randy Hussong's “In the Loop” combines sculpture with two-dimensional wall works. The resulting installations aim to emphasize the competitive aspects of car culture; Hussong's show shares a gallery space with “The Harrison Ford Group Plus One,” paintings by Tom Thompson that stem from recollections of a scene from The Fugitive. (Thompson's work comments on memory and the power of images to transcend narrative. Heavy.) Interested folks can observe hot rods and Harrison from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Gallery Paule Anglim, 14 Geary, S.F. Both shows continue through Jan. 20; call 433-2710.
Nostalgia for an Age Yet to Come Continuing the Harrison Ford theme, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner stars the tasty actor; an ambitious, $15 million adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film bombed when it opened, but it has gradually attained cult status as a “thinking person's” science-fiction flick, much like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Something to note while watching the exclusive director's cut: The film's replicant characters — including a subdued Sean Young and new wave gymnast Daryl Hannah — are more “human” than Ford's heroic private dick. Is the film's glossy/grimy vision of L.A. in the year 2019 dystopian, or is it realistic? And why do Westerners always make the future look Japanese? Decide for yourself at 7 and 9:30 p.m. (also Friday) at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight, S.F. Tickets are $3.50-5.50; call 668-3994.
All That Scratchin' Is Makin' Me Itch An evening of jazz and DJ innovation, “Marshall Arts Invisible Scratch Pickles” features turntable musician/magician Q-Bert (aka Richard Quitevis). Winner of West Coast, American, and world DJ championships, Q-Bert has worked with De La Soul, Ultramagnetic MC's, and others; he'll perform alone and together with Mix Master Mike, Apollo, DJ Disk, and DJ Shortkut at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St., S.F. Tickets are $5-7; call 621-3330.
Sound Surround “All sounds are communicative — sound as birth, life and death; sound as time and space; sound as object, environment or event,” writes composer Stan Shaff. “Audiences should feel sound as it bumps up against them, caresses, travels through, covers and enfolds them.” (Kinky!) An aural theater created by Shaff and equipment designer Doug McEachern, Audium puts these theories to use. Listeners sit in concentric circles and are enveloped by speakers in sloping walls, floating floors, and a suspended ceiling; compositions are created live by a tape performer who directs sounds through a custom-designed console to any combination of 169 speakers. The aural sex starts at 8:30 p.m. (also Saturday) at 1616 Bush, S.F. Tickets are $10; call 771-1616.
Divalicious A biannual event produced by Volonte Williams of WAMMIE-winners One Nation Underground, “Divas of Jazz and Soul” showcases the style and range of some Bay Area female vocalists. Daria Nile, Terra Deva, Jenna Mamina, Diana Alden, and Sherazade perform interpretations of classics made famous by Aretha, Sarah, Bessie, Billie, and others; One Nation Underground provides the music. The show begins at 10 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 861-5016.
Everything Must Go This year's national and local political high jinks — from naughty Newt's tantrums to flabby Frank's shower — provide the source material for “1995 Clearance: A Year End Revue.” An evening of skits, sketches, and stand-up billed as “comedy for people who read or know someone who does,” the program features Will Durst, Deb & Mike, and kvetchmaster Steve Kravitz; the yuks commence at 8 and 10:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center, 2640 College, Berkeley. Tickets are $10; call (510) 762-2277. (New Year's Eve shows start at 7:30 and 10 p.m. at Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, S.F.; tickets are $20-30.)
Broken English Playwright Chay Yew's As If He Hears was initially banned by the government in his native Singapore — it was the first drama in that country to deal openly with AIDS and the emerging gay subculture. Now, Yew lives in America; his new play, A Language of Their Own, combines two short works into a look at love, loss, and language. Directed by Tim Dang, the drama previews at 8 p.m. at Asian American Theater Center, 403 Arguello, S.F. A Language of Their Own continues through Feb. 4. Tickets are $8-21; call 751-2600.
Hunger Artists Jason Mecier's bean-and-noodle celebrity portraits aren't the only edible artworks on display in this cultured city. “Jewels of Wheat: The History and Tradition of Pasta” includes over 200 starchy and starch-inspired artifacts; an exhibition by Cheryl Meeker at Refusalon uses M&M's as material. “Jewels of Wheat” is on display from noon to 5 p.m. at Museo ItaloAmericano, Building C, Fort Mason Center, S.F. Admission is $1-2; call 673-2200. Meeker's new works are open to the public from 1 to 5 p.m. at 630 Natoma, S.F. Free; call 431-1046.
Back to the Future Bill Graham Presents' inventively titled “San Francisco New Year's Eve” is certainly bigger than any other New Year's event. Spread over seven stages and seven square blocks, the party includes a little vaudeville (at the Barbary Coast Saloon); a little comedy (stand-up by Johnny Steele, Bob Rubin, and Judy Gold); a little blues (Charlie Musselwhite, Sista Monica, and Preacher Boy & the Natural Blues); a little Latin music (Pepe y Su Orquestra, Los Ramblers, and Candela); and — surprise! — a little '60s and '60s-derivative rock (Santana, the Gin Blossoms). The monstrosity comes to life at 8 p.m. along the Embarcadero, S.F. Tickets are $72.50; call 974-6726.
Rock and Roll All Nite If heavy metal is the bastard child of glam rock, then Nightbreak is hosting a fire-breathing, blood-spitting, father-and-son New Year's Eve reunion. Panic in Detroit globs on the glitter and pays homage to David Bowie; Detroit Rock City cakes on the makeup and pays platformed tribute to KISS. The noize starts at 9 p.m. at Nightbreak, 1821 Haight, S.F. Tickets are $5 (cheap!); call 221-9008.
Night of the Living Funk Welcoming 1996 with classic mid-'80s funk, KSOL's New Year's Eve Ball features performances by the SOS Band (of “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” fame), Cherrelle (of “I Didn't Mean to Turn You On” semifame), and Con Funk Shun. Jazz (by Know Jazz), food, party favors, confetti, and champagne are also part of the entertainment; comedian A.J. Jamal hosts the event, which lasts from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Concourse Exhibition Center's Showcase Square, Eighth Street & Brannan, S.F. Tickets are $45-49.50; call (510) 762-2277.
Local Boys Make Good Successful Berkeley High alumni Joshua Redman and Benny Green have returned home for some holiday jazz shows in their hometown. Broadcast live on National Public Radio, a champagne celebration featuring the Joshua Redman Quartet and the Benny Green Trio starts at 9 p.m. at Yoshi's, 6000 Claremont, Oakland. Tickets are $50; call (510) 652-9200.
Fire Walk With Me Care to step into the new year on 1,200-degree glowing coals? You can pay for the opportunity at “The Fire Within,” a fire-walking workshop led by Jon Cotton. “The Fire Within” lasts from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Solano County Fairgrounds, Vallejo. Tickets are $149; call (510) 653-5050. People who'd prefer to jog into 1996 can do so at the “Safeway First Run,” an alcohol-free celebration featuring a two-mile run/walk, fireworks, and other boozeless, healthy treats; registration and pre-race party and music start at 10 p.m. Registration is $20-25; call the race hot line at (415) 564-0532.
Here Comes the Rain Again The Fabulous Bud E. Luv aspires to be a hotel lounge lizard. Some might say he has met his match (and then some) in the Tonga Room, the legendary tiki-style restaurant/bar featuring a raftlike stage in the middle of a pool and an indoor rain forest that showers every half-hour or so. Eat a four-course Pacific Rim dinner, drink fruity cocktails, and see Luv beginning at 8 p.m. at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason, S.F. Tickets are $50-150; call 772-5021. (The Fairmont also hosts performances by Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Joe Louis Walker, Robert Goulet, and the Pete Escovedo Orchestra; tickets range from $135-295.)
Ding Dong, 1995 Is Dead According to Japanese custom, each year should end with the dying reverberations of a temple bell that has been struck 108 times. (Buddhist belief states 108 mortal desires plague mankind; the tolling of the bells dispels these nasty temptations.) Help ring in the new year (ouch) at the Asian Art Museum's “New Year's Bell Ringing Ceremony”; the communal event starts at 11 a.m. at the Asian Art Museum, Golden Gate Park, S.F. Free; call 668-6404.
House Party Latino house's commercial heyday — the late '80s, when producers like Bobby O dominated the Top 40 — was a time when dance music still had commercial appeal and verse/chorus song structures. The same sound is still alive and well, but now it's one of many subgenres in an increasingly partitioned pop market. Futura serves Latino house to S.F. on a regular basis; on New Year's Eve, the club also offers a live performance by El Gran Mariachi Continental. DJs Rubin, Raymundo, and Anita spin; the dancing starts at 9 p.m. at the Grand Ballroom, 50 Oak, S.F. Tickets are $18-22 (includes appetizers, party favors, and free champagne at midnight); call 665-6715.
Awesome Audrey It's a new year: time to forget those pesky resolutions and worship at the altar of a dead film star. “Two With Audrey Hepburn” offers a double dose of the bright-eyed pixie. In 1954's Sabrina, directed by Billy Wilder, poor little Hepburn is romanced by a tycoon who looks a lot like Humphrey Bogart. (This year's remake replaces Hepburn with Julia Ormond and Bogey with inescapable Night + Day king Harrison Ford. Talk about diminishing returns.) In 1957's Funny Face, Hepburn discusses existentialism, models the latest fashions, dances with Fred Astaire, and sings Gershwin with Kay Thompson, an actress so arch she makes Rosalind Russell seem natural. Bonjour, Paris! Sabrina screens at 2:40 and 7 p.m.; Funny Face screens at 4:55 and 9:15 p.m. at UC Theatre, University & Shattuck, Berkeley. Tickets are $6.50; call (510) 843-6267.
Hair of the Dog The final installment in a series of festive events at Japantown begins with kagami-wari, the breaking open of a sake barrel to toast the new year; it continues with taiko drumming and shi shi mai lion dance (presented by San Francisco Taiko Dojo). Drink and be merry beginning at 12:30 p.m. at various spots within Japan Center, Post & Buchanan, S.F. Free; call 567-4761.