Salvador Dali was an archetypal bad boy. He was kicked out of art school, disowned by his parents, and, most important, often found in the company of other misunderstood intellectuals like poet Federico García Lorca, filmmaker Luis Buñuel, and the French surrealists.
But the mustachioed madman's life was much more than a blueprint for misbehavior. A devotee of Freud, the avant-garde artist tapped into his unconscious to create his outlandish images, from the nightmarish dream sequence he designed for Hitchcock's Spellbound to his timeless representations of melting watch faces. To celebrate the Spaniard's 100th birthday, more than 600 of his works are being displayed at “Dali 100.” See Dali's surreal world starting today at 10 a.m. (and continuing through May 30) at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center, East Hall Entrance, Seventh Street & Brannan, S.F. Admission is $8-10; visit www.dali100.com.
— Jane Tunks
Truly macabre lit
Mary Roach's book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers opens on a nightmarish tableau: Forty severed human heads rest on tabletops, awaiting a gaggle of plastic surgeons. Things only get gamier from there, as the author introduces other experiences common to donated-to-science bodies, from jags in anatomy labs to belted-in gigs standing in for crash test dummies. Roach even brings readers along on her visit to the grounds of the University of Tennessee's Anthropological Research Facility, where scientists allow donated cadavers to decompose in myriad horrifying ways — buried under leaves, stuffed into car trunks, floating in water — to help forensic specialists sharpen their analyses of real crimes. Roach reads from Stiff, now out in paperback, at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.
— Joyce Slaton
Going for Break
San Francisco, as you may have heard, is home to one of the most self-consciously wacky footraces in the world. Among serious, professional races — remember, there is a victor in the Bay to Breakers, meaning that someone finishes running it first and wins money — ours is more famous for costumes than for competition. The gorilla, the giant centipedes, the multitude of tutus: All these freaks make the race irresistible, even for nonathletic types. It's not performance art, exactly, jogging from one side of the city to the other dressed as a wedge of Gouda, but it's awfully close. The race begins at 8 a.m. at Howard & Spear, S.F. Registration is $24.50-40; call 359-2800 or visit www.baytobreakers.com.
— Hiya Swanhuyser