Thistle plays peppy, midtempo indie music. It's good, perhaps not great, but certainly not bad. There are guitars and a woman's sweet voice. The show will naturally be mobbed. There. I wrote 29 words without mentioning JT LeRoy, the band's lyricist, a feat I'll now tarnish: LeRoy is, of course, the same writer whose ephemeral back story (spawned by a rotten childhood and a bad case of social phobia) sent people into a frenzy unseen since Salinger moved off the grid. The breathless reports have somewhat cooled; turns out LeRoy was simply moving onto the grid and is currently adjusting well to a writerly life, enjoying air travel and movie premieres (his own). You can even Google his image, although he appears with a wig, sunglasses, a hat, and Pink, or combinations thereof. Critics wrap him in a soft blanket of praise, but this isn't a book review. This is about Thistle, or, at this point, Thistle's lyrics. The opening from "Mattress": "I fell down on your mattress/ And I had to laugh at the look on your face." Good stuff? Hell, why not?
Thistle plays with No More Stereo and Scissors for Lefty at 8 p.m. at the Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk (at Clay), S.F. Admission is $6; call 921-1695 or visit www.reddevillounge.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
Off the Map
I wouldn't have thought anyone outside of City Lights would have taken on the production of a San Francisco Literary Map. But then, cheekiness is one of the hallmarks of the 826 Valencia juggernaut, so why should we be surprised? Another of the tutoring center/publishing house's habits is to draw disparate writing scenes into its fold; that's the key to the success of this project, and it's reflected in the clear-eyed representation of creative writing in the Bay Area. Packed with information for both visitor and local, the map not only shows literary landmarks (including my favorite, the undercelebrated Montgomery Block) but also lists open-mike opportunities, publishers, bookstores, and other resources for readers and writers, like New Langton Arts or the San Francisco Writers Corps.
To fete the release, a gang of authors read and Jonathan Richman provides live music starting at 7 p.m. at the Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $15; call 642-5905 or visit www.826valencia.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
It's a long story
Most of us know the story of Sheherezade, the industrious sultana who appeased a husband hellbent on executing her -- not with a nightcap, but with stories of genies, giants, and beautiful princesses. But few realize that her story, A Thousand and One Arabian Nights, was bowdlerized by passionless doctrinaires for its unapologetic carnality. Suhaila Salimpour's slinky troupe of belly dancers brings the tales to life in Sheherezade, a dance performance that's appropriate for the family but will certainly evoke harems and opium, among other delights. See Sheherezade Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Tickets are $28-35; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
Choreographers bold enough to take comics as inspiration do not shy away from unique venues, and Chris Black and Ken James have picked a whopper: a cartoon museum. The Adventures of Cunning and Guile leads audiences through the rooms, spotlighting the genre's exaggerated situations and frame-by-frame action. It opens Friday at 8 p.m. (and continues through Sept. 24) at the Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), S.F. Admission is $15; call 863-9834 or visit www.odctheater.org.
-- Michael Leaverton