House Of Tudor

San Francisco Bizarro; Eels; YBO2

Long before “Night Crawler” had taken it's first timid pokes San Francisco's intimate nooks and crannies, there was “Slap Shots,” Jack Boulware's completely irreverent, hilarious, insightful exploration of this strange little city he has decided to call home (Iced tea shot from my nose more than once while reading his column before I learned my lesson). I grew up in San Francisco, but I always loved reading about the San Francisco Jack Boulware knew. He has since written countless features for SF Weekly, contributed to New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, British Esquire, and other fortunate periodicals, and published the much-needed Sex American Style: An Illustrated Romp Through the Golden Age of Heterosexuality. But his latest book, San Francisco Bizarro, is what I've been waiting for all this time: A comprehensive guide to all the sites and scenes that make this city worth living in for a skewed sensibility such as Boulware's. Inside, we find garden gnome clubs, new age golf, miniature tanks, the Church of John Coltrane, the Church of Satan, yuppie poop, sex, sex, and more sex, California “anti-cuisine” and peculiar bars, Laughing Sal, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, costumed rodents, Pez, shrunken heads, roller derby queens, cremation urns, adult diapers, ventriloquist cops, groovy drugs, Keane paintings, prison museums, wrist wrestling, pet cemeteries, serial killers, and the locales of Billie Holiday's opium bust and the attack on Jello Biafra that resulted in a busted leg. Whether a new transplant or a native, everything you need to really enjoy San Francisco is in this book. And I hope, having written this, Boulware won't mind if I plumb his guide for future column fodder. Jack Boulware celebrates the release of San Francisco Bizarro, with memorabilia and personalities featured in the book including, but not limited to, electric guitars made from toilet seats, “art” from the Blotter Acid Museum, and a live mouse taxidermy demonstration. The event will be held on Friday, June 23 at Edinburgh Castle (one of Boulware's favorite haunts) between 7 and 10 p.m. Admission is free; call (415) 885-4074.

After the 1996 radio hit “Novocaine for the Soul,” the Eels came back with the tormented Electro-Shock Blues, a concept album that chronicled, with brutal honesty, the suicide of songwriter E's sister and the impending cancer-related death of his mother. After going back into the studio and creating some more devastated noise, E took some time out and reemerged with Daisies of the Galaxy, a bright, sprightly, nearly acoustic album that sounds as soft and pastel-hued as the album's cover art which E found in an old German children's book. Gone are the garrulous samples and distorted guitar. E's voice meanders in hushed tones through wide open fields filled with lilting guitars; he twirls around the maypole with loping horns; and giggles lazily with shuffling string arrangements. On first listen, this sounds like the sort of sweet, playful pop that created superstars in the early '60s, but there is still genuine melancholy tugging at E's heart. And that's what makes Daisies worth listening to again. “It's a beautiful day,” sings E with weary resolve, while instruments frolic around his feet. Mimes, birds, and mice scurry through his lyrical landscape, conjuring oddly poignant memories that only serve to remind us of our mortality. “I think I'm on the brink of disaster,” he sings with childlike aplomb in one of the most enthusiastic songs on Daisies. “It's a motherfucker/ Being here without you,” he whispers over a pretty little piano line. Rising out of the depths of his sorrow to find sunny days and sweet-smelling rains happen with or without our participation, E has stumbled on a disarming combination of childlike gaiety and heart-rending openness that is far more evocative than any amount of furious flailing could be. The Eels perform on Saturday, June 24 at Great American Music Hall at 9 p.m. Ticket price is $10 in advance, $12 at the door; call 885-5075.

The original lineup of YBO2 has not performed together in nearly 15 years, but having given rise to a number of popular Japanese bands such as Zeni Geva, the Ruins, White Heaven, and Ghost, interest in the deconstructionist rock outfit has never been higher. As my roommate so delicately pointed out, it's an informed taste. Their violent concept album Alientation features a 12-minute leveling of the folk song “Scarborough Fair”; it's funny if not a bit plodding. But their shows, which have always featured elaborate makeup, blood-splattered stuffed animals, and space alien costumes are anything but. YBO2 perform on Saturday, June 24 at Bottom of the Hill with psychedelic space music of SubArachnoid Space and the beautiful, atmospheric shadows of Amber Asylum opening at 9:30 p.m. Ticket price is $7; call 621-4455.

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