Two Tickets to Paradise Author Toni Morrison has finally produced her first book since she won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993, the long-awaited novel Paradise. As in Morrison's other major works, including Song of Solomon, Sula, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Beloved, familial ghosts and the often-wrenching history of black Americans linger. Paradise traces the origins of the all-black town of Ruby, Okla., back to 1890, and weaves them together with a narrative about an incident in 1976, in which nine of the town's men assault the women of a nearby convent. Morrison will be making two public appearances today, first at a luncheon with SFSU ethnic studies professor Dr. Raye G. Richardson, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel, 1001 Broadway, Oakland. Admission is $35; call (510) 652-2344. Her second appearance, in conversation with Bastard Out of Carolina author Dorothy Allison, benefits the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp.'s After-School Program. It begins at 7 p.m. in the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, Bay & Lyon, S.F. Admission is $18; call 392-4400.
Murder, Espionage, Publishing The violence has subsided since loyalist Orangemen made their recent annual march through a heavily Catholic neighborhood in Northern Ireland, but the tension remains. Author/documentarian Sean McPhilemy will no doubt offer his views on the march and the disruption to Ireland's peace process when he discusses his controversial book The Committee: Political Assassination in Northern Ireland. McPhilemy led a British TV crew in the filming of the 1991 documentary The Committee, which caused an uproar by asserting that a loyalist conspiracy involving the clergy and British security forces was responsible for the murders of innocent Irish Roman Catholics; the book tells the story of the documentary's creation and the legal action and death threats that followed its airing. The film and the book have both been banned in Ireland and the U.K., but American publisher Roberts Rinehart has published the book in the States. The reading begins at 7 p.m. at Green Apple Books, 506 Clement (at Sixth Avenue), S.F. Admission is free; call 387-2272.
Rosa's Romany Romance Feuding Spanish Gypsy clans take the place of Italian nobles in Los Tarantos, but otherwise, Alfredo Manas' drama of doomed romance is remarkably like Romeo and Juliet. The tale, which was made into an Oscar-nominated flamenco film in 1963, concerns a rich Gypsy and a poor Gypsy who both desire the ravishing Soledad. She marries the poor Gypsy, who is subsequently bumped off by the rich Gypsy's goons. Years later, Soledad's son and the rich Gypsy's daughter fall in love, and, well, audiences can guess the rest. For its 25th anniversary concert, Rosa Montoya Bailes Flamencos stages Las Palomas (The Doves), a world premiere flamenco piece based on Los Tarantos. Husband-and-wife duo Antonio Alcazar and Victoria Palacios, who direct their own dance company in Spain, dance the star-crossed lovers. Las Palomas pays tribute to Carmen Amaya, the flamenco legend who played Soledad in the film, and who is credited with bringing the pyrotechnic men's flamenco footwork to women's roles. A native of Madrid, Rosa Montoya has been teaching and performing locally since 1971; she'll direct a company of Spanish and Bay Area dancers in the piece, which features live accompaniment and begins at 8 p.m. (continuing through July 26) at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $16-30; call 392-4400.
Puppy Dog Tales With a solo show lasting 24 hours and one minute, San Francisco's Bob Ernst holds the Guinness Book of World Records' record for longest performance. Ernst is expected to turn in a much briefer improv bit at Pet Talk II, a two-night show about pets benefiting the SPCA. Ernst, who brought tears to viewers' eyes with a story about his dog's death at last year's benefit, will do another dog piece, as will Merle Kessler (aka Ian Shoales), although it should be noted that Kessler is actually dogless and owns Siamese cats named Mulder and Scully. The Face by the Door writer/performer Kristina Robbins, meanwhile, will turn in a story about how she discovered she was really her mother's daughter after her family cat, Muffin, dug up a flower bed one rainy night. They'll all be joined by Ben Franklin: Unplugged star Josh Kornbluth, who was still deciding at press time how to follow up last year's performance about the adventures of Turtle Boy. Kornbluth, the father of a young son, recently returned his pet turtle to an East Bay vivarium after learning that reptiles secrete a substance that's harmful to small children. He says he'll either tell that tale or do a different animal piece, "depending on what stage of grief I'm in." Eloise, a black lab-greyhound mix who played a reindeer in the Marsh's holiday pageant last year, is also expected to make an appearance. The show features additional performers (Kornbluth and Kessler appear Friday only) and begins at 8:30 p.m. (also Saturday) at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $15; call 826-5750.
TV Party Tonight! Artists' Television Access Gallery keeps us coming back by screening underground-movie treasures like Jeff Krulik's Heavy Metal Parking Lot, a hilarious documentary on Judas Priest fans getting wasted and waxing philosophic outside a Maryland stadium in the early '80s. It's payback time for all the people who enjoyed that film and the many other rare flicks and hip happenings the gallery has hosted, as ATA attempts to raise three months' back rent with "Midsummer Night's Funk," a four-hour film, video, and DJ'd music party. Heavy Metal Parking Lot makes a return appearance, along with musical shorts from Eartha Kitt and Negativland, and rare film clips of performances by Cab Calloway, Louis Prima, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, and Liberace. Dancing is encouraged when DJ Jamez spins '70s funk on twin turntables, and the subterranean Optic Nerve Lounge will keep viewers amused with unusual animation, Scopitones, and ridiculous industrial films. Screenings of Todd Haynes' famously banned Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, and the infamous Tommy 'n' Pamela Anderson Lee sex tape wrap up the evening's entertainment. Doors open at 8 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is $5-50 sliding scale donation; call 824-3890.
Home-Grown Honky-Tonk The difference between Red Meat's first album, Meet Red Meat, and their second, Thirteen, was succinctly put by the Blasters' Dave Alvin, who produced the latter. The first was a "pleated pants" country album, Alvin said -- the second was a "tight pants" country album. Thirteen is named for the 12 originals and one cover, of Johnny Horton's "I'm a One-Woman Man," which appear on the new CD. It's mostly vintage-style bluegrass and honky-tonk, but the lyrics run the gamut from the timelessness of a broken heart to modern aggravations like phone tag. Red Meat, which features former members of the Movie Stars and is not to be confused with Sub Pop's Red Red Meat, will follow up a 3 p.m. in-store appearance today at Amoeba Records on Haight Street with a CD release party. They'll be joined by Jeff Bright & the Sunshine Boys and Johnny Dilks & His Visitacion Valley Boys, whose old-timey honky-tonk is distinguished by a smattering of Hank Williams covers and Dilks' widely admired yodeling ability. The show begins at 10 p.m. at the Transmission Theater, 314 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $8; call 861-6906.
Glam Slam The best bits of big dumb glam rock -- sustained operatic high notes, arena swagger, glittery eye shadow, silly pants -- inspire L.A. threesome 10 Speed in both their live shows and on their self-titled A&M debut album. These boys can rip into power chords and deliver songs like "Suicidal Psychopathic Freak" with breathless dramatic urgency as easily as they can slide into a languid groove worthy of the late Mark Bolan (their first single, "Space Queen," is in fact the logical '90s extension of "Spaceball Ricochet" and Queen, done with hip-hop flavor). With its debauched movie stars and its polluted natural beauty, L.A. is a breeding ground for over-the-top glam bands (does anyone remember Celebrity Skin?), but how do they come off in San Francisco? 10 Speed headlines an all-you-can-eat barbecue show with Helium, the Day I Fell Down, Angel, and the Abbey Travis Foundation. The barbecue begins at 4 p.m., the music at 5:30 p.m., at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $4; call 621-4455.
Crossing the Line Composer Vincent Montoya and his band the Tattooed Love Dogs perform live in the second weekend of El Otro, a family drama by Octavio Solis making its world premiere this weekend. Montoya wrote an original score for the work, which was commissioned by local theatrical company Thick Description -- their production of an earlier Solis work, Santos & Santos, won critical acclaim locally. Pop culture and the poetic language that is Solis' scriptwriting signature mesh in El Otro, the story of a Mexican-American teen-age girl who travels across the Rio Grande into Mexico with her father and stepfather, a journey that is fraught with tension as the dark secrets of personal and shared family history unravel. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Aug. 16) at Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St. (at York), S.F. Admission is $15; call 441-3687.
Enemy Music Supergroups tend toward embarrassing excess: Think Neurotic Outsiders (Sex Pistols meets Duran Duran meets Guns 'N Roses!), the Ted Nugent redneck-rock comeback vehicle Damn Yankees, or the Butthole Surfers-Ministry-everyone-and-his-mother revolving lineup of Pigface. Thankfully, the unassuming Seattle-based supergroup Tuatara is less flashy (it's unlikely they would refer to themselves as a supergroup), and arguably more talented. The core players are Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin, Luna bassist Justin Harwood, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, and Critters Buggin jazz saxophonist Skerik. After their debut instrumental album Breaking the Ethers, named one of last year's 10 best albums by Entertainment Weekly, the band brought in Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, and a handful of other musicians for Trading With the Enemy, a sinuous venture into smoky jazz lounges and '60s spy flicks, played on the standard guitar-bass-drums as well as gongs, marimba, and African djembe. The group performs at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $12; call 885-0750.