Clawing Their Way to the Top Eastern seaboard crabs just feel naked without Old Bay, or so the folks at McCormick, which makes the seafood seasoning, would have us believe. They're hoping to extend its popularity beyond the shores of the Chesapeake Bay by running a nationwide “Old Bay Neighborhood Challenge.” Chefs from restaurants in six different parts of the city will compete for prizes at a public lunchtime cook-off, which will be judged by local culinary authorities; unwashed eaters will select a separate “People's Choice” and will be offered free tastings, spice samples, and recipe giveaways. It begins at noon at Justin Herman Plaza, Market & Steuart, S.F. Admission is free; call (800) 733-6318.
Bring the Noise Bearded Lady co-founder and performer Harriet Dodge and poet/musician Ras Mo join Los Tricksters, Drama-DIVAS, and Latinas in Theater for “Mission Noise,” an evening of performance capping a summer-long arts education program in the Mission. Dodge goes solo in excerpts from her show Muddy Little River, using movement and monologue to tell stories of peer pressure and purity of heart; Mo, the director of Dominican dance and music company DISAP, specializes in Dominican folklore. DramaDIVAS and Latinas in Theater base theatrical work on their experiences as minority artists, and Los Tricksters draw on history and culture for a multimedia look at labor and consumption. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at Southern Exposure, 401 Alabama, S.F. Admission is $3-5; call 863-2141.
Battles On and Off the Canvas The tug of war between artistic integrity and public opinion is fought in British playwright Howard Barker's dark comedy Scenes From an Execution. Written first as a radio play for the BBC, it tells the story of an artist commissioned by the city fathers of a late-16th-century Venetian town to paint a large-scale work celebrating their army's victory against the Ottoman Empire. When she turns in a technically adept but controversial depiction of the savagery of war, officials don't know whether they should applaud her ability or condemn her for treason. There are plenty of real-life precedents to invoke in this history-based tale of an artist's resistance to creating state-supervised propaganda. Scenes opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Sept. 15) at Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St., S.F. Admission is $10-14; call 267-1836.
Loud as the Rolling Sea The Afro Solo Festival's main event is the appearance of longtime political activist Dick Gregory, who works his experiences as hunger striker, nutritionist, comedian, and 1968 presidential candidate into a larger description of the African-American experience in his one-man show, Dick Gregory Live!!! The animated Gregory is hardly the only reason to catch this third installment of Afro Solo: Several African-American artists use story, monologue, movement, and music to put individual stamps on a collective experience. The weekend-long performance schedule begins with soprano Dr. Helen Dillworth singing the stirring African-American national anthem “Lift Every Voice” and a libation led by Dr. Dorsey Blake and continues with Michael Lange in The Legacy of Malcolm X Revisited: The Ballot or the Bullet and Maxine Wyman's Sapphire's Song, among other offerings. A Saturday symposium centers on the topic “Reaching Landings, Turning Corners, and Sometimes Going Into the Dark: How Black Theater Reflects Black Culture.”The fest begins at 8 p.m. at ODC Performance Gallery, 3153 17th St., S.F. Admission is $12; call 621-7797. Gregory performs at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25; a pre-show reception begins at 4:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 432 Post, S.F. Admission is $20-25; call 621-7797
Anarchy From the AK The antidote to political convention hyperbole may be found, however briefly, in dreams of anarchy, making the AK Press show sound pretty good right about now. The locally based publisher produces and distributes anarchist books and tapes of all sorts, from Noam Chomsky's Secrets, Lies and Democracy to Zeke Teflon's Complete Manual of Pirate Radio. Epitaph Records, no stranger to civic dissent itself, considering its refusal to slap parental warning labels on its punk rock records, has released Better Read Than Dead, a punk/metal/rock compilation CD benefiting AK Press and perhaps summed up best by Chumbawumba's “Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart.” Contributors Propagandhi, who put anti-fascist vegetarian politics to a snappy punk beat, play a CD release party and benefit with Deadmates the Gary Floyd Band and Bjsrn Baby Bjsrn at 9 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, S.F. Admission is $7; call 885-0750.
Beyond the Burr The Scottish invasion continues with Fest on the Fault Line '96, an ambitious, 10-day performing arts festival patterned after Edinburgh's Fringe Festival. An international microcosm of Scottish natives, expatriates, and admirers will be staging shows, singing songs, slugging whisky, and slagging Brits (and probably talking about Trainspotting, but that's another story). To counter the stereotype of aggro kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing northern Kingdomers, organizers Allen Aitken and Alan Black offer the “Shaken Not Stirred II” spy party in honor of Scotsman and original Bond man Sean Connery; an evening of work by Scottish authors like Irvine Welsh, read in accents ranging from Glaswegian to cockney and titled “You Can Stick Your Fuckin' English Up Your Arse!”; art exhibits, spoken word, theater, and concerts. The Fest officially begins with a ceilidh, a traditional dance party with Celtic band Storm in a Teacup, at 9 p.m. at Edinburgh Castle, 950 Geary, S.F. Admission is $5-7; call 771-4440. See box, Page 26 for comprehensive Fest listings.
Spear the One You're With Making contact at “the world's largest exclusive gathering of romantic eligibles,” the International Singles Expo, should be a sure thing, but just in case, Flirting Safari leader Susan Bradley will cover common flirting errors that prevent people from getting together. Being too shy or too aggressive are the usual culprits, says Bradley, director of Cleveland's Loving University and author of How to Be Irresistible to the Opposite Sex. Leering, being too sexual, or talking too much (“People want to listen to themselves,” Bradley rightly asserts, “not you”) are absolutely taboo. The Expo opens at 7 p.m. with exhibits and socializing; a keynote address, “Going the Distance,” by Lonnie Barbach; and a big dance party. It continues Saturday at 2 p.m. with Bradley, Cupid Network President Daniel Bender, and other speakers; a dinner; and a dress ball. Events are held at the Cathedral Hill Hotel, Van Ness & Geary, S.F. Admission is $30; call 456-5683.
Find a Penny, Pick It Up After collecting pennies in jars around town for nearly 10 years, the AIDS Emergency Fund Pennies Project is nearing the million-dollar mark, with totals hovering around $870,000, according to volunteer David Slocombe. Heartened by this bit of financial good news, the group plans to proceed with its Fifth Annual Street Fair, an extended sidewalk sale of new and used furniture, PCs, clothing, jewelry, and the like; a raffle; a silent auction; desserts from the Fairmont; and live jazz. Proceeds go to grants for people with AIDS, to help cover living expenses and medical bills. The fair begins at 9:30 a.m. (also on Sunday, with a 10:30 a.m. champagne brunch at the Gate Restaurant, the site where the Pennies Project began) on a decked-out Pine Street at Jones, S.F. Admission is free; call 775-9145.
Belly Up The honor of “the world's largest exclusive gathering of undulating midriffs,” meanwhile, goes to the Mr. and Miss America of the Belly Dance contest and show. Internationally known names on the belly dance circuit, like Sapphira and Ramzi el Edlibi, come from as far off as Lebanon and Frankfurt to perform and judge the contestants, who dance solo, in pairs, or in troupes. A panel of dancers and teachers rates the competitors on five points: entrances/exits, knowledge of the dance, rhythm and grace, dancing skill, and costumes. Audience members are encouraged to come in costume as well, and to join the post-contest open dance. The show begins at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Union Square, 480 Sutter, S.F. Admission is $30-35; call 387-6833.
All's Fair The Filipino-American Arts Expo, the force behind this weekend's pistahan, or outdoor fair, has a few landmarks to commemorate. It's been a hundred years since the Philippine Revolution sent the Spanish packing and 90 years since the Filipino labor migration to Hawaii. Over 300,000 Filipinos live in the Bay Area, and many will be celebrating at the fair, where dancers and singers from the Philippines will perform, among them the highly regarded singer-comedienne Nanette Inventor. Indigenous delicacies will be dished up and all members of the family get their own activity areas, from the Youth Jam to the Senior Circle. The fair begins at 11 a.m. (also Sunday) at Center for the Arts Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission & Third St., S.F. Admission is free; call 436-9711.
Footloose The Pearl of the Orient Parade, held in conjunction with the Filipino-American cultural fair, spotlights traditional folk dances of the Philippines in the “Dancing in the Streets of San Francisco” competition, which takes place as dancers move down the parade route. Grand Marshall Willie Brown presides alongside “Older Brother,” Daly City Mayor Mike Guingona, as hundreds of people trek through downtown in contingents or aboard historically and culturally themed floats. The parade begins at noon at the Embarcadero at Market Street. Admission is free; call 436-9711.
Get Along In a neighborhood where Chinese restaurant menus are posted in Spanish, a community festival promoting peace and understanding among cultures is a sound idea. Unity '96 brings together Aztec dance troupe Danza Teokalli with funk band Soul Divine and Buddhist monk the Rev. Yamato with the Global Peace Orchestra, among others. Children Everywhere Working Together puts on a back-to-school fashion show and Aura Lights presents a psychedelic light show as DJs warm up the crowd. The Marketplace of Ideas, a welcome development for the mentally bankrupt, includes booths from community groups. The festival begins at noon at the Mission Recreation Center, 745 Treat, S.F. Admission is free; call 643-0270.
I Heart Darkness Hey, children of the night: Goth/industrial/new wave dance club “Death Guild” departs slightly from its regularly scheduled programming with a movie release party for The Crow II: City of Angels. The film has plenty of pertinent “Death Guild” elements. New star Vincent Perez (Queen Margot), the replacement for killed-on-the-set Brandon Lee, plays a half-man, half-bird superhero who, in inky rags and fearlessly applied eyeliner, avenges misdeeds to the raging sounds of Hole, White Zombie, the Deathtones, and Iggy Pop. DJs Lucretia and the Melting Girl spin hits at the party, which includes comic book and soundtrack giveaways and passes to the Crow screening at midnight. The fun begins at 9 p.m. at the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St., S.F. Admission is $3-5; call 995-4600.
Outer Limits Cecilia Tan transcends time, space, gravity, and cultural norms in her line of work: erotic science fiction. Under the imprint of Circlet Press, which she founded in 1992, the Cambridge, Mass.-based Tan has published her own and others' creative meldings of erotica and futuristic fantasy. Her writing has appeared in publications as disparate as Penthouse and Ms. Circlet anthologies span the spectrum of sexual proclivities, but the science fiction format permits a broader range of experimentation than conventional fiction might. Tan's being brought to town as part of a West Coast tour touting woman-centered erotica. Because her books tweak gender, Tan's guests are invited to dress in drag to come hear her speak at 8 p.m. at Good Vibrations, 1210 Valencia, S.F. Admission is free; call 974-8980.