American consumer culture -- with its strip malls, behemoth department stores, and nationwide chains -- is on a collision course with uniformity. From fast food to SUVs to the latest looks, our image has become mass-produced in a neatly wrapped presentation aching to be duplicated. Bluejeans, T-shirts, and beige khakis, although practical and classic, are perfect examples of mediocrity's closet. It's time to mix things up, borrow yesterday's finery and make it new again, because there's a certain panache and sense of originality attached to an outfit featuring clothes from another era. Plus, it's always in style to answer, on or off the red carpet, that what you're sporting is "vintage."
Instead of scouring the picked-over thrift stores, garage sales, or flea markets, get new-to-you threads at the Vintage Fashion Expo, where more than 80 clothing-hoarders armed with racks of one-of-a-kind ensembles are on hand to dress you up. From Grandma's housedress to genuine '60s Chanel, there are plenty of options for addressing your inner clotheshorse. Get frocked up at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday at the Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California (at Taylor), S.F. Admission is $10; call 776-4702 or visit www.vintageexpo.com.
-- Sunny Andersen
Noisy Fun in the Dark
(With your clothes on)
Although we've never met Alex Mendizabal, he sounds like an awfully interesting guy. Straight outta the Basque Country, this musical pioneer has been building his own eccentric instruments, composing for them, and playing them for many years. Tonight we reap the fruits of his labor with "A Program of Blind Films and Daguerrosounds," during which the audience is treated to the sounds of "wall harps, voice transmitters, cowboy horns, distant string-actioned cups, cold-water boiling pans, chamber birds," and other audible oddities while seated in total darkness. We're especially intrigued by "Blind" because it's hosted by the San Francisco Cinematheque, which is well known for its quirky, fascinating film programs. Tune in starting at 7:30 p.m. at the California College of the Arts' Timken Lecture Hall, 1111 Eighth St. (at Irwin), S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 552-1990 or visit www.sfcinematheque.org.
-- Dave Cherry
A Good Soul
Oakland's Goapele is Even Closer to fame
During the recent rejuvenation of R&B, local Gen-Xers have infused their grooves with hip hop's liberated politics and the soul stylings of 1970s icons like Nina Simone. Center stage within this talented group is Oakland Youth Chorus and Berklee College of Music alumna Goapele (say "gwa-pah-lay"). The singer/songwriter's popularity is heading through the roof, especially with the rerelease of her debut album, Even Closer (one of her fans is some guy named Prince). And sure, she's pretty, but she's no prefab kewpie doll -- this lady started her own label and writes and produces her own material. Bamuthi opens at 9 p.m. at the Independent, 628 Divisadero (at Hayes), S.F. Admission is $18; call 771-1420 or visit www.independentsf.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Those who love their pets just can't help immortalizing them -- cat faces doodled on paper scraps, cutesy Christmas cards, and the like. The Creative Growth Art Center Gallery plays up the animal-human bond with "Bow Wow WOW!," varmint-themed paintings and sculpture by disabled artists. Say, "Awww!" through April 16 at 355 24th St. (at Broadway), Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 836-2340.
-- Joyce Slaton