Peaceful Easel Feeling Collage work by Dead Kennedys album cover artist Winston Smith may be the most surprising offering at this year's Art for AIDS Auction 2, although organizer and contributing artist Ellen Sherrod notes an unusually strong religious theme running through the work, along with elements of love and a distinctly human presence. Donations from illustrator Mark Ulricksen and embattled photographer Jock Sturges, whose pictures of nude youth are at the center of a recent protest against a New York Barnes and Noble, are expected to be hot tickets at the auction, whose beneficiaries include the UCSF AIDS Health Project and the California AIDS Ride. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence host the affair, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at Somar Gallery, 934 Brannan (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 642-3233.
Textbook Case While other kids were shooting spitballs at each other across the classroom, Nena St. Louis, her brother and sister, and five other kids were learning their lessons at the St. Louis' house, with Nena's mother as teacher. The St. Louis family had moved from Denver and its integrated schools to Kansas City in the early '60s and found a kind of de facto segregation in the educational system there; the school in their predominantly black neighborhood was marred by outdated textbooks and underqualified teachers. St. Louis recalls her transition into Catholic school, the suit her parents filed against the school board, and the picketing and leafleting the St. Louis family did in the interim in her autobiographical solo show Schools!, which she narrates from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl. Tri-Star Studios is at present reading the script for Schools!, which opens at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through June 6) at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 826-5750.
Rockart From the Crypt The Firehouse Kustom Rockart Co. spotlights 60 of the team's recent rock 'n' roll posters in traditional rock 'n' roll fashion, with local bands the Nads and Phunsize wailing away in one corner and beer and pizza laid out in another. Comic illustrator Chuck Sperry, the Last Gasp Comics contributor who painted the Harry Bridges mural at the Labor Temple, and Psychic Sparkplug founder Ron Donovan, whose career is decorated with incidents like the gallery show he and his art saboteurs group We Are Not Gentleman staged in the men's room at the California College of Arts and Crafts, have been collaborating on poster-art pieces for the last four years. Distinguishing characteristics among the posters they've created for X, Johnny Cash, Bad Religion, and the Rolling Stones include a fondness for metallics and what Sperry describes as a "pretty damn sarcastic" flavor. The show opens with a reception at 8 p.m. (and is up through June 17) at Balazo/Mission Badlands Gallery, 2811 Mission (at 24th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-5172.
Stormin' Norman When Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels canned "Weekend Update" anchor Norm MacDonald earlier this season and replaced him with Colin Quinn, the semiofficial explanation was that MacDonald's departure from the desk would free him to do more sketch comedy. But rumor had it that an NBC higher-up just didn't think MacDonald's droll delivery and running O.J. Simpson commentary were funny. If that's true, it would explain why MacDonald, who admits that sketch comedy isn't his strong suit, has essentially disappeared from the show, save for the occasional impersonations of a gum-snapping Burt Reynolds or a blustering Quentin Tarantino. The good news for fans is that MacDonald stars in the forthcoming film Dirty Work, a comedy about revenge artists. The bad news is that the film is directed by the famously unfunny Bob Saget of America's Funniest Home Videos. The other good news, though, is that if the film bombs, there's always the stand-up comedy circuit on which MacDonald, a one-time Roseanne writer, got his start. With Comedy Central backing, he returns to his roots in a three-part show that opens with Live 105 traffic guy Larry Brown and features a Dirty Work trailer and the original South Park pilot. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts, Bay & Lyon, S.F. Admission is $17.50-20; call (510) 762-2277.
You Must Remember This What did you do for Memorial Day weekend last year? Do you remember? The interactive exhibit "Memory" uses hands-on activities, films, and displays that tap all your senses and help explain why you can or can't recall. On the clinical end, teen-age "explainers" will dissect sheep's brains and compare them to human brains, while amateur biologists of all ages will learn more about the function of brain nerve cells by electronically firing a sea slug's brain cell and watching the subsequent changes. A jelly-bean tasting station tests how many flavors people can name, and a "smell memory" station illustrates the powerful pull of the olfactory with common childhood aromas. Activities like "Hoop Nightmares," in which a pair of prism glasses interferes with the physical memory of how to play basketball, prompt questions about how we learn and retain information. If you remember what you see at the exhibit, you'll leave knowing why you can recall songs and arguments but not phone numbers and what parts of the brain control explicit and implicit memory. Opening weekend features screenings of Dreaming Rivers (2 p.m. Sunday) and Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (2 p.m. Monday). The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. (and runs through Jan. 10, 1999) at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is free-$9; call 563-7337.
Water World The blazing oranges and fiery reds typical of Carnaval's brilliant plumage may shift to cooler hues this year in accordance with the theme, "Creatures of the Sea." One of the year's most visually arresting parades morphs into a seaside fantasy land replete with elaborate floats and the requisite samba dancers and musicians; entertainers scheduled to play the pre-parade festival include Brazilian funk band Nobody From Ipanema, Afro-pop highlife band the African Rhythm Messengers, and salsa band Mazacote. The festival begins at 11 a.m. today (also Sunday) on Harrison between 16th and 22nd streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 826-1401. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Sunday and runs down 24th Street from Bryant to Mission, then down Mission to 14th Street and 14th to Harrison. Also free; call (510) 762-2277 for bleacher seat tickets.
Sunday Shuffle On Nov. 7, 1989, President George Bush signed into law a U.S. joint resolution declaring May 25 National Tap Dance Day, after Sen. Alfonse D'Amato helped shepherd the paperwork through the legislative process. The resolution recognizes the confluence of African and European cultures that produced the modern form, and rightly acknowledges its importance to the union ("Whereas tap dancing is a joyful and powerful aesthetic force providing a source of enjoyment and an outlet for creativity and self-expression for Americans on both the professional and amateur levels"). National Tap Dance Day is officially observed May 25 in honor of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's birthday, but since Memorial Day also falls on May 25 this year, local hoofers have moved their concert up to avoid scheduling conflicts. Dorothy Toy, of famed tap twosome Toy and Wing, will accept a lifetime achievement award, and Sam Weber heads up the list of local tap dancers slated to perform. Viewers who bring their own tap shoes are invited to come up onstage for a shim-sham finale, and proceeds from the show, including donations of tap shoes, benefit the Community Rhythms Scholarship Fund. The show begins at 2 p.m. at the McKenna Theater, 1600 Holloway (at 19th Avenue), SFSU campus. Admission is $10-15; call 338-2467.
Burn, Baby, Burn Carefully scripted pyromania doesn't come cheap, so to help defray the costs of the imminent Burning Man, the Purple Freaks camp is throwing the "Purple Paradise" benefit. The Burning Man Drummers Collective and the Firedance Ensemble will perform, along with local bands Tinkertown and Thoth, which features one loincloth-wearing, violin-playing BART station entertainer. The host venue will be transformed into a kind of mini-Black Rock City, minus the blazing heat and sandy grit in the eyes, with body painting and tarot card reading rooms, and dance floors where DJs CB, Kylen, Keith O'Reilly, and Polywog (back from her stint with the Jane's Addiction tour) take their turns at the turntables. The show begins at 9 p.m. at the Paradise Lounge and Transmission Theater, 308-314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $15; call (510) 610-TWEB.
Wouldn't You Love to Love Her? While some people are out commemorating casualties of war, certain other people will be inside celebrating the birthday of Stevie Nicks at the third annual Belladonna Ball, a night of DJ'd music, "Stevie-oke," and a prize raffle featuring rare Stevie merchandise and perhaps that new 3-CD box set. The Fleetwood Mac diva was born in 1948 in Phoenix and studied speech communication at San Jose State, but Nicks nuts already know that; the real die-hards will also be able to answer questions like "Is Stevie really a witch?" (A. No); and "Did Stevie ever have a drug problem?" (A. Yes. She spent a month at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1986 to treat her decadelong coke habit). The celebration, a timely kickoff to the summer solo tour dates Nicks recently announced on VH1, begins at 9 p.m. at the CoCo Club, 139 Eighth St. (at Brannan), S.F. Admission is $5; call 626-2337.
Ben There The personal is political for solo performer Josh Kornbluth, but his wry comic style keeps his theatrical work from collapsing under its own introspective weight. In his first autobiographical monologue, Josh Kornbluth's Daily World, he described life with his communist parents in 1960s New York. That piece and Moisture Seekers, about his experience with an older woman, led to Red Diaper Baby, a sort of combination of the two for a producer who wanted a show with communism and sex. Kornbluth spun the tale of his life out further still in The Mathematics of Change, in which his math-whiz reputation withers during freshman calculus at Princeton, and Pumping Copy, about his stint as a copy editor for a progressive weekly newspaper. In his new show, Ben Franklin: Unplugged, Kornbluth attempts to uncover the real story of an American Founding Father and link it with his own history, including the "un-American" activities of his parents. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through June 28) at the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Theater, 2350 Turk (at Masonic), S.F. Admission is $20; call 392-4400.