Just as Hunter S. Thompson had his Dr. Gonzo, Jack Kerouac had his Neal Cassady. (Well, actually, Dr. Gonzo wasn't real, but that never stopped Thompson.) The film The Last Time I Committed Suicide is based on an eight-page letter that Cassady wrote to Kerouac in the 1940s. In the letter, Cassady bemoans his unfocused desire to write, leave his dead-end job, and get out on the road. The tormenting story is filled with standard beat fare — guilt, suicide, alcohol, passion, and genius — and if you can get past the fact that the shadowy character who encourages Cassady to follow his more lunatic impulses is played by none other than Keanu Reeves, you might dig it, man. Hey, if Steven Seagal can be proclaimed the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama, Reeves can be shadowy, damn it. The Last Time I Committed Suicide screens at the Roxie Cinema Wednesday, July 2, through Thursday, July 10. Admission is $6; call 863-1087 for times.
Spunkadelic, a two-week showcase of original music, offers NYC's most popular gay recording artists a little queer coastal exchange: The musicians supply the entertainment, and Josie's supplies all the juice the artists can drink, plus an appreciatively vocal crowd. Three of New York's finest found the arrangement equitable: Knitting Factory Works' Chris Cochrane, who has worked with John Zorn, Fred Frith, and T-Bone Burnett — and whose own bands, No Safety and Suck Pretty, have been singled out by the New York Times as the “softer side of queercore”; David Clement, the self-proclaimed “angry young fag” who won a GLAMA award for best new artist of 1996; and David Downing, the requisite queer for today's Cocktail Nation, who has been compared to Harry Connick Jr. and Bobby Troup. Backing these three are drummer Richard Dworkin, who has worked with Debbie Harry and Dr. John, and bassist George Rush, who has played with Cyndi Lauper and Pizzicato Five. Spunkadelic lands at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint on Tuesday, July 1, and continues through Saturday, July 12. Tickets are $10; call 861-7933.
Close Encounters of the Marin Kind? At first glance, it may not sound like much fun — rich, athletic, blond people leaning on their BMWs talking about silk nail wraps while drinking nonfat double lattes with cinnamon — but what the Marin County Fair has in mind are encounters of a more extraterrestrial nature. This year's five-day festival celebrates Independence Day in high martian fashion, with big-screen views of the red planet's surface as NASA's Pathfinder takes the first photos of Mars in over 20 years. The NASA Ames Research Center provides virtual reality helmets equipped with early exploration photos that will allow fairgoers to “land” on the planet; NASA astronauts Dr. Millie Hughes-Fulford, Rusty Schweickert, and Dr. Yvonne Cagle answer questions regarding their intensive training and millions of miles of space travel; astronomer Tom Dornaff leads telescope-powered exhibitions through the cosmos; and artists from George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic explain the birth of the vigorous creatures that populated the sets of Mars Attacks! An exhibit of over 200 winning entries from the Creatures and Models contest (judged by ILM) stands near the more earthy Toilet Art Exhibit (raw materials donated by Marin Municipal Water District). Rocket's Canine Comets — America's premier Frisbee dog team — supplies entertainment between musical performances by the Temptations, Starship, and others. For those who like to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground, there are contests of the country fair variety, including best coffee, rose, art and craft, baked good, home brew, wine, garden, and creative writing. Mammal lovers can peruse the farm animal hall, the horse arena, or the petting park. If that weren't enough, don't forget the 27th annual National Short Film Festival, the nightly fireworks (expect the Close Encounters theme song), or the plethora of carnival rides, all of which are free with admission (a true rarity in county fairs). “Close Encounters” will be held at San Rafael's Marin County Fairgrounds Wednesday, July 2, through Sunday, July 6, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $7-9; call 499-6400 for a complete schedule.
“Gary Numan Salute” at New Wave City. Seriously silly. Nuff said. King Street Garage on Saturday, July 5, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5-8; call 675-LOVE.
In a rally to raise funds for his son's imminent kidney transplant, lovers and friends of Bay Area drummer Gaylord Birch have come together to devote their time and talent. Pete Escovedo, Edwin Hawkins, and Lenny Williams lead a cavalcade of musical dispositions, including Marvin Holmes, Lloyd Gregory, Sam Cox, Anthony Davis, Bobby Cochran, and John Turk. The Wispers will be on hand to sign autographs, and Jay Payton MCs. You can help save the life of Gaylord Birch III at Kimball's East on Monday, July 7, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20-25; call (510) 658-2555.
— Silke Tudor