Black Humor Comedian/activist Dick Gregory faces race issues other people sugarcoat or ignore: His '70s-era autobiography — Nigger — was a million-seller, laying the groundwork for Richard Pryor and others. Gregory last made headlines via a diet plan for Long Island's heaviest man, but he still speaks — comically and politically — about civil rights in America. He'll talk at 2 p.m. at McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts Building, S.F. State University, 1650 Holloway, S.F. Tickets are $5-10; call 338-2444.
Vintage Mercedes Mercedes Sosa was born on Independence Day in Argentina. After winning an “amateur hour” contest at 15, she pioneered the nuevo cancion, a blend of Latin American folk and social commentary. Never popular with Argentina's dictatorship, Sosa was banned from performing after 1968, forcing her to find refuge in Europe. Thankfully, she returned to a free homeland in 1983, where she still writes and sings today. Hear her at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $14-26; call 776-1999.
Silly White Folk Described as “a reverse minstrel show” by playwright Douglas Turner Ward, Day of Absence features a black cast in whiteface. Set in slavery days, Ward's satire depicts a Southern town caught in a tizzy when all its “Negroes” disappear. See it at 8 p.m. at Black Repertory Theater, 3201 Adeline, Berkeley. Tickets are $3-10; call (510) 652-2120.
Attack of the Crabby Lesbian Hitchhiker The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black is a duo: vocalist Kembra Pfahler and her guitarist husband, Samoa. Onstage, Pfahler and Samoa wear colorful costumes, make big noise, and indulge in body painting (à la Ann-Margret in The Swinger). Yes, their group is a tribute to the actress; they even have a song based on a hilarious sequence in one of Black's films (the crabby lesbian hitchhiker segment in Five Easy Pieces). Hear them at 11 p.m. at the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St, S.F. Tickets are $7; call 995-4600.
Mind's Eye Though John Dugdale has lost over 70 percent of his eyesight to AIDS-related retinitis, his artistic vision — powered by memory — has grown more distinct. Using an antique camera and cyanotype printing, Dugdale creates blue-tinted still lifes and portraits about family and mortality. Previously a commercial photographer, Dugdale now allows flaws into his work. “I wish … nobody would ever have to experience the agony of things disappearing in front of your face,” he's said; this struggle between creation and loss permeates his art. Meet Dugdale and see images from his monograph Lengthening Shadows Before Nightfall from 6 to 8 p.m. at Shapiro Gallery, 250 Sutter, S.F. Dugdale's show continues through Dec. 23. Free; call 398-6655.
The Real World With “queers” mentally masturbating about identity and gender, and “virtually normal” homosexuals trying — and failing — to gain acceptance from mainstream America, gay/lesbian civil rights aims are increasingly fragmented and misguided. Clearly and methodically, Urvashi Vaid's new book, Virtual Equality, diagnoses these symptoms and the movement's current state: access to power but no real power; visibility, but no security from violence or discrimination. Then Vaid offers suggestions and solutions based upon principled action, not reflective theory and reflexive irony. Listen to her at 7:30 p.m. at A Different Light, 489 Castro, S.F. Free; call 431-0891.
Eternal Patsy In 1993, Joni Morris got plenty o' kudos for her starring role in the musical drama Always … Patsy Cline; according to Edward Guthmann, her Cline impersonation was “almost spooky.” Now Morris is back with the concert tribute A Portrait of Patsy Cline. “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Crazy”: They're all part of the 21-song show, along with wigs galore, costume changes, and biographical anecdotes. See and hear Morris as Cline (backed by the After Midnight Band) at 8 p.m. at the Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary, S.F. Tickets are $15-25; call 392-4400.
Rock Defense Rock Against Rape benefits S.F. Women Against Rape, a nonprofit organization that offers crisis lines, counseling, support groups, and political/criminal justice advocacy. The show's eight-band bill includes Seven Day Diary, Lilyvolt, Flower S.F., and Her Majesty the Baby. The music starts at 9 p.m. at Transmission Theatre and the Paradise Lounge, 11th St and Folsom, S.F. Tickets are $7; call 861-6906.
Nowhere Is My Home Raised by Wolves. That's the title of photographer Jim Goldberg's 10-year documentary project on homeless teens in S.F. and L.A. Goldberg signs copies of the monograph from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ansel Adams Center for Photography, 250 Fourth St, S.F. Free; call 495-7000.
Cocteau Twins Philip Glass' new opera, La Belle et la Béte (Beauty and the Beast), removes all sound from Jean Cocteau's 1946 film, pairing its imagery with Glass' simple, repetitive harmonies and rhythms. Live singers perform in synchronicity with screen images during the show; featuring Gregory Purnhagen in the Jean Marais (hubba hubba) role, La Belle begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $18-36; call 776-1999.
Like Father, Like Daughter In A Line Around the Block, comedian Marga Gomez portrays and pays tribute to her father. Cruel and compassionate, Gomez's one-woman performance chronicles the career highs and lows of her show-biz dad; playing a number of characters (including herself), Gomez switches back and forth from tuxedos to lame dresses. See her at 8 p.m. at Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint, 3583 16th St, S.F. A Line Around the Block continues through Dec. 3. Tickets are $12-14; call 861-7933.
Welcome to the Jungle Take Tricky's urban musical mutations, lace them with some evil speed, and you have Timeless, Goldie's debut LP. The tweaky drum sound of jungle — a fast, brittle breakbeat mixed with a slower, echoed one — is at the heart of Timeless. But rhythmically and melodically, Goldie's ambition extends beyond other jungle artists: Songs like the LP's 22-minute inner-city title track fuse rad experimentation with trad pop structures, distorting time and space. (Trippy, man!) Hear him open for Bjsrk at 8 p.m. at the Warfield, 982 Market, S.F. Tickets are $17.50; call 775-7722.
Bookworm Brigade A frightening number of authors (150) converge at this year's Bay Area Book Festival. Norman Mailer, Essence editor Susan L. Taylor, and Tennessee Williams biographer Lyle Leverich will be there; panelists will discuss African-American, Asian-American, and Irish images in literature. A program on comics includes Bill Griffith; Carol Queen and Susie Bright will talk about — you guessed it — sex. The lit chat lasts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (also Sunday) at Concourse Exhibition Center, Eighth St and Brannan, S.F. Tickets are $2; call 861-2665.
Friends of Dorothy Opening day of the Dorothy Hamill Skating Center's fourth season features a surprise special guest: Dorothy Hamill. Put your ankles to the test — skate with the woman who won the 1976 gold, and launched a thousand hairstyles, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Justin Herman Plaza, Embarcadero Center, S.F. Admission is Free-$5.50; call (800) 733-6318.
Here's the Story Founded in 1960, Marcus Books offers the largest selection of black literature in the nation. The store's 35th-anniversary party features many of its best-selling authors: Terry McMillan (who will speak), and special guests Bebe Moore Campbell, E. Lynn Harris, J. California Cooper, Tina McElroy Ansa, Alice Walker, Robert Allen, Angela Davis, and August Wilson. The reception lasts from 6 to 9 p.m. at Geoffrey's Inner Circle, 410 14th St, Oakland. Tickets are $25; call 861-2665.
Let Them Make Art POOR is a not-for-profit mag that publishes art and writing by people who don't have much money. A benefit for POOR, “Fun-Ding” features an auction of paintings, photos, and kinetic sculptures; it also includes multimedia performances and a live mariachi band. The low-budget blast lasts from 7 to 11 p.m. at Four Walls Gallery, 3160-A 16th St, S.F. Free; call 626-8515.
Crazy Creepy Crispin Nutty as a fruitcake, that's Crispin Glover. During the depths of the '80s Brat Pack actor tedium, he turned his debut Late Night With David Letterman appearance into a brilliant prank: Dressed in an ill-fitting wig, poindexter glasses, tight, striped polyester bell-bottom hip-huggers, and platform shoes — long before their '90s revival — he induced mass ridicule in the normally sheeplike studio audience and freaked his smirking frat-boy host out so much (via a near-kick to the head) he was booted off the show. On the big screen, Glover has played speed freaks, morticians, Michael J. Fox's dad, a guy who puts cockroaches in his pants, and Andy Warhol (twice). He's an author, too: In “Crispin 'Hellion' Glover's Big Slide Show,” he'll read from tomes like Rat Catching, then show The Orkly Kid, a short film about a misguided boy (Glover) who thinks he's Olivia Newton-John. See Glover at 8 p.m. at the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St, S.F. Tickets are $12; call 995-4600.
The Joanest Jett Around “Late Night With Joan Jett Blakk” is the best kind of talk show: one where the drag queen is the politically savvy host, not a freak “topic” for audiences to ogle, then moralize about. Ms. Blakk recently taught a class in drag etiquette at Harvey Milk University, and one can only hope more queens will follow her friendly, feminist example. See Joan converse with shoot-from-the-hipster guests at midnight at Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint, 3583 16th St, S.F. “Late Night With Joan Jett Blakk” continues through Nov. 25. Tickets are $8; call 861-7933.
Little Things Mean a Lot Tiny ceramics, tiny wood bowls, tiny ships, and tiny houses: They're all part of the tiny kingdom on display at “Miniature's Day,” an event linked to the Exploratorium's current “About the Size of It: A Circus of the Big and Small” exhibition. Talk to big artisans who make little things from 1 to 4 p.m. at 3601 Lyon, S.F. Admission is $2.50-9; call 563-7337.
Space Is the Place Space Needle is two frumpy white guys who met at a record store and record on a four-track. Yep, they're an indie band circa 1995, with the requisite ambient (Eno) and schlock (Journey) reference points. Hear them at 8 p.m. at Kilowatt, 3160 16th St, S.F. Fellow sonic surrealist Azalia Snail shares the bill. Tickets are $6; call 861-2595.
Float Like a Butterfly Clarence Clemmons, Hammer, Color Me Badd, and Narada Michael Walden head the all-star musical roster at the Sports Image Awards, a benefit for various Bay Area nonprofits. Muhammad Ali (aka “The Greatest”), 49er Steve Young, and tennis pro Venus Williams are among the other athletes honored at the event, which begins at 7 p.m. at Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California, S.F. Tickets are $25-50; call 346-4222.
Vote Your Whimsy Though this year's elections offer plenty of reasons to cry, you'd rather laugh, wouldn't you? “Scampaign '96” offers an evening of pre-election comedy; the stand-up artistes include Will Durst, Johnny Steele, Sabrina Matthews, David Alan Moss, Dennis Gaxi-ola, Sean Murphy, and host Barry Weintraub. Bust a gut at 9 p.m. at the Punch Line, 444 Battery, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 397-4337.
Rent a Video Warning: The Rentals feature musicians from Weezer and that dog. Still, their first single — with a video that's part Abba, part the Buggles — is the best thing on 120 Minutes this month, for whatever that's worth. It's called “Friends of P,” and it's catchy like a rash, but if the “P” refers to Johnny Depp's new band, you may just have to hate them anyway. Catch the new wave (again) at 9 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 626-4455.
Greeting From L.A. Sensationalized by Hollywood, distorted by the media, South Central L.A. is often depicted but rarely with accuracy or depth. Lisanne Skyler's documentary No Loans Today offers stories of survival and death in the region, shattering stereotypes through direct testimony. See Skyler's film at 6, 8, and 10 p.m. at the Roxie, 3117 16th St, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 863-1087.