This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The debate over music trading painted everybody as a villain: Musicians were just trying to get paid, the RIAA was just suing grandmothers, and college kids just wanted to get stuff for free. The furor may have cooled (thanks in part to Steve Jobs, weirdly), but another fight is raging between Hollywood and gigabyte-loaded, movie-trading geeks, a battle that is breathlessly awaiting its own Napster-like killer app (BitTorrent, anyone?) and the inevitable Wired feature proclaiming the end of movie theaters. In his book Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation, blogger J.D. Lasica takes an insider's look at the new copyright war. He reads at 12:30 p.m. at Stacey's, 581 Market (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 421-4687 or visit

Thursday, August 25, 2005
Staged readings can be underwhelming without the accouterments of a full production. But Fear of a Brown Planet has readers that are anything but restrained. Meaning: slam poets. And not just any poets, but HBO Def Poetry vets and spoken-word champions. Paul Flores, Marc David Pinate, and Amalia Ortiz will treat audiences to an early version of the hip hop play, which will premiere later this year. Described as a “browning of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit” on the Web site, the play concerns three “Chicano archetypes” — a radical lawyer, a construction worker, and a socialite — who land in a detention center, à la Guantanamo Bay, ignorant of both how they got there and why. A Q&A with the audience follows the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at Galería de la Raza, 2857 24th St. (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is $2-5; call 826-8009 or visit

Friday, August 26, 2005
Not many musicians would dare to cover the Stooges; mighty Iggy's band is not exactly up for grabs if you're looking for something cool to throw on your latest album. So who do you have to be to record “I Wanna Be Your Dog”? Well, it would help if you had been in the Nuns, if you had helped invent a genre called cowpunk, and if Rolling Stone magazine had asserted that you were in your “own genre.” In this case, you would be Alejandro Escovedo, a man enamored of both glam and grit, and capable of using either one to make listeners cry. John Dee Graham opens tonight, and Jeffrey Luck Lucas joins in tomorrow; both shows start at 9 at 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $20-22; call 970-9777 or visit

Saturday, August 27, 2005
Ker-chunk. That's the sound of one View-Master turning. KER-CHUNK. That's the sound of many View-Masters turning, as if a group of people, say an audience, were to scroll through the same images, which is the delightful idea behind this Vladmasters and the Apt Ensemble show. KER-CHUNK. A Vladmasters performance tells stories using intricate dioramas shot with 3-D macro photography. KER-CHUNK. Three works will be presented: Lucifugia Thigmotaxis, about a cockroach named Stanley; The Public Life of Jeremiah Barnes, concerning earth-moving trucks in a forest; and Actaeon at Home, featuring a man at war with his décor. Recorded music will fill the air, and a live band will accompany Actaeon, using instruments such as a melodica and a train whistle. KER-CHUNK. An artist named Vladimir is behind all this, and she is, quite clearly, brilliant. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890 or visit

Sunday, August 28, 2005
In sharp contrast to the pop-icon status of his most famous painting, Edvard Munch lived a perfectly tortured artist's life, suffering through all the big setbacks of late-19th-century existence (sudden sibling death, disease, malaise) and horrible reviews when he broke from realism and worked to found expressionism. His much-quoted line, “Sickness, insanity, and death were the angels that surrounded my cradle and they have followed me throughout my life,” says volumes about his particular joie de vivre, but the complete picture of the man can be found in Peter Watkins' 1976 film Edvard Munch, a dramatized biography mixing the authority of documentary with the emotional power of narrative. Called “a jagged, nearly overwhelming monument to a repressed, obsessive man” by Daniel Talbot of New Yorker Films, Munch screens at 2 and 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft (at Bowditch), Berkeley. Admission is $4-8; call (510) 642-1124 or visit

Monday, August 29, 2005
The fiddle, the banjo, the dobro, and the geetar: All they need is a stand-up bass and five girl musicians, and we can call it the Stairwell Sisters. These 'billies come from the hills of S.F., but Lisa Berman and Sue Sandlin's not-afraid-to-sound-nasal harmonies may well frighten born-and-bred city dwellers. The songs are mostly public domain, the feel is down-home back-porch old-fashioned, but in an unexpected twist, it looks like the gals could give Lavay Smith a run for her wardrobe if they pooled their silk stockings and fancy vintage dresses. See the Sisters plus Gail Lynn & the Hired Hands at 8:30 p.m. at Amnesia, 853 Valencia (at 20th St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 970-0012 or visit

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
After a solid run in Europe and Canada (“Dazzling, hilarious, enchanting, beautiful, and haunting,” said the Globe and Mail, presumably during a swoon), The Overcoat is destined to succeed in San Francisco. The plot is terrifically sweet, based on a story by Nikolai Gogol: A life of an office drone, scorned at work, is unexpectedly changed when he acquires a special item. A raise? A date? A parking spot near the entrance? No, duh, a fine new overcoat (imagine late-1800s Russia, winter). If you think this sounds a bit too grown-up, night-at-the-theater boring, consider this: Nobody says a single word. It's a silent play with loads of music, 22 actors, 85 costumes, and a two-story mechanical set. In short: a spectacle. Tonight's preview starts at 8 p.m. (and the show continues through September 25) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $12-46; call 749-2228 or visit

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