Pigeons get a bad rap. Even people who like twittering finches or darting hummingbirds have it in for the cooing creatures. "They're flying rats!" exclaim the avian foes who festoon their ledges with fierce spikes. To be fair, the common pigeon (Columba livia) can be a bit of a pooping, squalling nuisance. But what do we expect of a bird that lives cheek by jowl with our filth? You'd think we'd admire these tough motherfuckers, which have survived and thrived in North America for more than two centuries despite our seeming determination to cover every inch of green space with Burger Kings and Wal-Marts. Instead we scorn them, trap them, poison them, and do whatever we can to eradicate them.
Nonetheless, the fearless flyers have at least a few fans, and artist Gabrielle Drinard counts herself among them. Her "Urban Ornith-choreography," a series of posters examining the standoff between people and pigeons on Market Street, appears on sidewalk kiosks starting today. Created by etching and painting designs on a clay-coated board covered with black ink, "Ornith" uses bird and human figures to point out the similarities between the two species' societies and to analyze the ways pigeons arrange their lives around us.
"Pigeons are so despised, yet they're resilient little things that pick up our trash and stay out of our way," says Drinard, who hopes her exhibit will persuade pigeon-haters to give the birds a little respect. "They're underdogs! You gotta love that!"
"Urban Ornith-choreography" can be seen for free on Market Street between Van Ness Avenue and the Embarcadero until Aug. 12. Call 252-2586 or visit www.sfgov.org/sfac.
-- Joyce Slaton
It's sooo irritating to hear things like "Sedentary lifestyles are the cause of nearly 2 million deaths per year." Oh, yeah, it's not like cars are dangerous. So while Get Active America! won't exercise your brain muscles, that's admittedly not what the organizers were going for. Quite the opposite: The idea is to make working out easy with a first-one's-free scheme. All week, non-gym-bunnies can go with their healthy friends (if they have any) to various local gyms at no charge to see how great sweating is. It's a budget-conscious way to scope out the scene, sponsored by a health club nonprofit. Get Active America! begins today and ends May 23; visit www.getactiveamerica.com to find a participating club near you.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Music in a smut sanctuary?
Some weather we've been having, huh? All over the city carefree San Franciscans are donning T-shirts, sunbathing fearlessly on Baker Beach, engaging in public sex -- oh, you didn't realize that our town was a hotbed of alfresco coupling? It's true. Just about any space in S.F. with some foliage has seen plenty of action, but there are certain hot spots: Ocean Beach's dunes, Golden Gate Park's windmills, and the nooks and crannies of Buena Vista Park. Which is why we find it so amusing that the Friends of Recreation & Parks' "Friday Night Music in the Park" roosts at the latter site tonight. Hear blues and Motown sounds -- and keep your eyes peeled for randy little elves in the bushes -- starting at 6 p.m. at Buena Vista & Haight, S.F. Admission is free; call 750-5224 or visit www.frp.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
A rule of thumb exists concerning baseball mascots: If they sport a pair of shades, they're crap. We have a prime example here in San Francisco with the less-than-inspiring Giants pet Lou Seal. Cornball antics like pelvic-thrust dugout dancing aside, this spiffed-up stuffed animal brings little to a genre born of irreverence and absurdity, pioneered by San Diego's Famous Chicken and Philadelphia's equally beloved Phillie Phanatic.
Enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame, the Phanatic has built a name for himself as the paragon of anthropomorphic tomfoolery and opponent-mockery. Often the main attraction at Veterans Stadium, he comes tonight as the guest of Lou Seal to stuff his oversized honker in the face of on-field authority. Catch him at the Giants-Phillies game, starting at 7:15 p.m. at SBC Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza (at Third & King streets), S.F. Admission is $7-70; call 972-2000 or visit www.sfgiants.com.
-- Kevin Chanel
Not everyone loves small dogs. Some folks find them annoying and prissy and like to refer to them as "drop-kick dogs." But we enjoy the little yappers. Toy poodles, for example, are charming, whether they wear the famous haircut or not, and regardless of the volume of their little barks. So we're excited about the Poodle Parade. To celebrate the publication of E.B. McHenry's children's book Poodlena, the author has asked all poodles and their owners (with their kazoos) to march down the street with her. Meet at 1:30 p.m. on Kittredge between Fulton and Shattuck, in Berkeley (the parade makes its way to Pegasus Books). Participation is free; call (510) 649-1320 or visit www.poodlena.com
-- Hiya Swanhuyser