Grow Your Own Eden Now that spring has officially sprung, a handful of the country's best gardeners are in town showing off what a deep green thumb can coax out of the mud. In addition to 18 gardens like “Coastal Prairie Walk” and “Swing — New Year's Eve 1937,” the San Francisco Garden Show includes 65 shops hawking everything from insect-eating plants and Chinese tree peonies to metal and fiberglass garden sculptures, greenhouses and tools like composters and pruners. A garden technology exhibit addresses physics, chemistry, botany and computers. Also scheduled are workshops on horticulture and flower-arranging; lectures ranging from topiary to composting; and special activities for kids. The Bay Area's major fundraiser for Golden Gate Park, the show runs through Sunday, April 30. Hours are 10 am-6 pm, except for Friday, when events continue until 10 pm at Fort Mason Center's pavilions. Admission is $8-10, children accompanied by adults are free; call 750-5108.
Faggot With a Gun Born the seventh kid of an undertaker on a Friday the 13th back in 1963, Mark Davis may have been destined to come out with both barrels blazing. In his one-man show about coming of age as a gay man up to his ass in rednecks, the comedian ricochets from one eccentric character to the next: a high school jock; a television evangelist; Davis' mortician father; and his mother, Mavis Davis. On the road, Davis has received critical acclaim for both Industrial Strength Queer and Faggot With a Gun; this is his last San Francisco performance before he takes up residence in Los Angeles this summer. Shoot out the laughs Wed-Sun at 8 pm (through May 7) at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint, 3583 16th St, S.F. Tickets are $12; call 861-7933.
McLuhanesque Is the medium the message? In her robotic ballet The Medium, avant-garde theater artist Anne Bogart re-examines Marshall McLuhan's communication theories. Perhaps appropriately in an age when the information highway threatens to flatten us all, Bogart does not focus on McLuhan's hope that technology would knit a fragmented world into a “global village,” but instead seizes on his darker fears that once let out of the bottle, the technological genie would necessarily “generate great pain and identity loss.” Modus Ensemble presents Bogart and Saratoga International Theater Institute in a performance that follows a stroke-afflicted McLuhan into the world on the other side of the television screen. According to the New York Times, his encounter with the whirling mass of human dysfunction in the electronic era makes for “a vivid … piece of expressionistic theater.” Bogart will lead a series of lectures and workshops in conjunction with the production (see Calendar for details); The Medium plays Wed-Sun at 8:30 pm (through May 7) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Tickets are $13.50-19.50; call 621-7797 or 346-6456.
Greek Chorus With strong contemporary female roles hard to come by, many actors are returning to the classics. That's the route Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis has taken in the American Conservatory Theater production of Euripides' tragedy, Hecuba. Set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, Hecuba follows the widow of the slain ruler of Troy into exile as she plans her vengeance. While the play's overarching themes are the brutality of war and abuse of power, it also addresses the relationship of women to military culture and the terror of becoming a refugee. The premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker's contemporary translation is directed by Carey Perloff; choreographer Margaret Jenkins, a member of Twyla Tharp's original dance company, coached the cast (including Dukakis, Ken Ruta, Gerry Hiken, James Carpenter, Elisabeth Imboden and Stephen Markle) on movement. Hecuba previews Thurs-Tues, April 27-May 2, then continues through June 4 at the Center for the Arts Theatre, Howard & Third St, S.F. Tickets are $11-39; call 749-2228 or BASS.
Tune In, Turn On and Drop Out … when '60s icon Dr. Timothy Leary tours bookstores and record shops throughout the Bay Area. Leary's legendary rise to prominence began with the 1950 publication of The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality, named book of the year by the American Psychological Association. His radical transformation was complete by 1970, when his Harvard research with psychedelic drugs landed him a six-year prison sentence. In recent years, Leary has appeared with such mainstream alternative road attractions as 1994's Lollapalooza festival. While in town, the doctor will be signing copies of his most recent book, Chaos and Culture, and of his video, How to Operate Your Brain. Leary will be at Tower Records, 2510 Durant, Berkeley, 4:30-5:30 pm; Gaia Bookstore, 1400 Shattuck, Berkeley, 7:30-9:30 pm; Leary appears Sat 1-2:30 pm & 5-7 pm at the Whole Life Expo at the Fashion Center, Eighth St & Townsend, S.F. The Tower and Gaia appearances are free; Whole Life Expo admission is $5-25. Call (510) 540-6278.
Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die Can't come up with your own great words of love? Try cribbing notes when Armenian-born actress Marie-Rose reads from the secret missives of passionate and tormented souls like Victor Hugo, Napoleon, Liszt and Byron. Over the years, Marie-Rose has collected letters traversing the stages of love, from falling in to desperately hanging on. In Rendezvous With Love, the letters are incorporated into a single script and set to the strains of Schumann, Brahms and Chopin. Proceeds from the performance benefit the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. Start smoldering at 8 pm at the Herbst Theatre, Van Ness & McAllister, S.F. Tickets are $15-25; call 392-4400.
Big Goddess Pow Wow Five of Chicago's most eloquent spoken-word divas bring their brand of balls-out divinity to San Francisco. The event was named The Big Goddess Pow Wow in 1989 by performance artist Paula Killen, who first thought of bringing the Windy City's women together in a single evening of performance. Since then, the Pow Wow has become one of its hometown's major theater events, drawing audiences of 600-plus. Previous performers include Liz Phair and Pulitzer-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks. This year's featured artists are Killen; performance poet Lisa Buscani, individual winner of 1992's International Poetry Slam; sometime standup comedian and guitarist Marcia Wilkie; performance duo Betty's Mouth; and Nora Dunn, currently on NBC's Sisters and a five-year veteran of Saturday Night Live. The Goddesses appear Fri-Sat, April 28-29, 10:30 pm, at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $12-15; call 641-0235.
East Bay Pow Wow Across the bridge from the Goddess, five homegrown women offer a series of readings and performances titled Our Black Bodies: Writings on the Lips, Hips, Nose, Naps and Thighs. Curated by Marvin White and Laurette Hamilton, the program explores sexuality, body myths and color lines. Participants include Fruitvale poet and singer Ananda; Oakland resident Aloina Gibson, whose first book, Nappy: Growing Up Black and Female in America, will soon join the growing literature of the politics of hair; Medea Project member Nancy Elizabeth Jones; San Francisco writer and spoken-word artist Jillian Mosley; and Gabriel Stover, an East Bay witch in training. The exploration starts at 8 pm at Small Press Distribution, 1814 San Pablo, Berkeley. Admission is $5; call (510) 549-3077.
Soupstock Food Not Bombs has been gleefully “bumrushing the new world austerity order” for 15 years. Now performers like Frightwig, Neurosis, Culture of Rage, Ski Mask and Clip are gathering to help the organization celebrate its long-term efforts to reduce hunger among the urban needy, most recently by flouting city ordinances forbidding public distribution of free food without a license. The event they've dubbed Soupstock is sure to be a riot, or maybe just a low-key good time in the park. The free concert runs noon to 6 pm at the Band Shell in Golden Gate Park, S.F.; call 552-4667.
Come Together In their new book, Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin, Michael Lerner and Cornel West offer spirited debate about affirmative action, Zionism and crime. No matter how close to the bone their disagreements cut, however, the authors explore differences in a constructive dialogue. Watch the debate firsthand when Lerner, the editor and publisher of Tikkun: A Bimonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Culture and Society, and Cornel West, author of Race Matters and a professor of African American studies at Harvard, rehash the controversial subject matter of their book at 8 pm at Martin Luther King Junior High School, 1781 Rose, Berkeley. Admission is $10; call (510) 848-6767 ext. 612.
Jayhawks After seven years in the semi-shadows of the American pop-rock scene, these masters of hayseed grunge finally hit it big with their 1992 single Waiting for the Sun from Hollywood Town Hall. A grueling tour in support of the album kept the group out of the recording studio until the spring of 1994. But the Jayhawks are on the road again, this time promoting their newest release, Tomorrow the Green Grass. Catch them with openers the Bottle Rockets at 9 pm at Slim's, 333 11th St, S.F. Tickets are $12; call 621-3330.
Cinco de Mayo Often mislabeled a Mexican Independence Day celebration, Cinco de Mayo actually marks Mexico's first strike for freedom in 1862, when an outmanned, outgunned, undernourished battalion of Mexicans led by Miguel Hidalgo y Costillas took up arms against the French Imperial Army. Since the 1960s, Cinco de Mayo has taken off as one of the major Chicano celebrations in the U.S. This year's San Francisco festival starts sabado (Saturday) in Civic Center Plaza, but the parade, which includes floats, dances from Mexico's different regions (including some pre-Colombian Aztec dances) and charros (a kind of Mexican cowboy), winds its way through S.F.'s Mission District beginning at 11 am domingo. In keeping with the theme of this year's celebration — honoring children — kids from local elementary schools will act as grand marshals. The parade starts at 24th St & Bryant and proceeds to 14th St & Mission. The festival proper, which features not only entertainment but medical and educational information, takes place at Civic Center Plaza Sat-Sun, April 29-30, 11 am-7 pm. Admission is $1-4, children under 12 are free; call 826-1401.
Quiz Bang “A gayme show for the '90s,” Quiz Bang will test your grasp of such trivia as which lesbian queen was the last of the House of Stuart, which gay actor has won the most Oscars, and which Hollywood Squares host appeared in drag as a homicidal maniac. Bone up on your knowledge of the irreverent and irrelevant and head on down to watch contestants gnaw on the toughest brain teasers in live theater. Starring Randy Paulos as Quiz Master and Birdie Bob-Watt as Quiz Mistress, Quiz Bang has an open-ended Monday-night run — show time is 8 pm — at the Cable Car Theatre, 430 Mason, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 956-8497.
Choose Your Poison Here's the dilemma: You're attention starved. Your dinner companions start rolling their eyes the minute your mouth opens. They know you're about to go off on a 20-minute monologue about the time you crucified your sister. Here's the solution: Tuesday-night open mike at any of seven area cafŽs: The Blue Monkey's mike opens at 7 pm at 1777 Steiner, S.F., 929-7717; Caff Mediterraneum's starts at 7 pm at 2475 Telegraph, Berkeley, (510) 836-1246; Coffee Zone's starts at 7:30 pm at 1409 Haight, S.F., 863-2443; Cup a Joe's begins at 8 pm at 17th St & Sanchez, S.F., 487-9773; Edinburgh Castle starts with a featured reader at 8 pm at 950 Geary, S.F., 885-4074; Java Source hosts an “open shout” at 9:30 pm at 343 Clement, S.F., 387-8025; Java Supreme starts at 8 pm at 703 Guerrero, S.F., 206-1832; and the Luggage Store Annex has an alcohol- and smoke-free open mike open at 8 pm at 1007 Market,