8 Days a Week

May 26-June 2, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO'S ANNUAL Carnaval celebration is a two-day, butt-grabbing, body-baring exploration of humanity's most essential fault line, the place where the heartbeat becomes the drumbeat becomes the heartbeat and we can feel the liberating rhythm of life. If you think that description is a mouthful, well, then chances are that your body is functioning poorly above the neck and is downright dead below it. Carnaval explores rhythm as a road to the soul – and you can train for the main event during the day on Saturday when the Mission District's eastern edge is dotted with dancers and drummers. On Sunday, the fabulous Carnaval parade lifts off at 9:30 a.m., and those of us with a gooseflesh fetish will be in heaven as minimally covered dancers struggle to generate enough body heat to do battle with the inevitable morning fog – a face-off that tends to warm the crowd as well. While images of heaven-sent dancers linger when the weekend is done, the march itself is made up of extravagant floats and more contingents than one can possibly imagine. I mention this to underscore the powerful wallop packed by my personal favorites, the Mission's own Loco Bloco Dance and Drum Ensemble. Led by Jose Carrasco and a small army of local youth who have been attracted to the organization's year-round performing arts programs, Loco Bloco is the epitome of what a community-based organization should be at this moment in time. They dance, they drum, they draw, and they learn to understand themselves and the world around them – an education that includes the critical importance of having the most dangerous Carnaval float and contingent, which they do. Festival Sat/29-Sun/30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Harrison between 16th and 23rd Sts., S.F. Parade Sun/30, 9:30 a.m., starts at corner of Bryant and 24th Sts., S.F. Free. (415) 920-0125, www.carnavalsf.com. (J.H. Tompkins)

May 26


Cracked crackdown Freedom of speech ain't so free anymore, as even the creative efforts of high school students are under scrutiny. These days jumpy administrators fear that any kid who explores violent themes in his or her writing might also be secretly planning the next Columbine-style massacre. Interesting, then, that history doesn't exactly show a link between violence on the page and real-life violence (for example, Shakespeare wrote Macbeth and managed to avoid going on a kill-crazy rampage thereafter). Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, Daniel Handler, Floyd Salas, Jayne Lyn Stahl, Alan Kaufman, Tamim Ansary, and other acclaimed authors gather today for the First Amendment Project-sponsored 'Fighting Words,' a reading of violent passages from lit both contemporary and classic. The event is especially timely, coming on the eve of a California Supreme Court decision on a case involving a San Jose student who distributed a so-called criminally threatening poem to his classmates. 6 p.m., Bruno's, 2389 Mission, S.F. $5-$10. (510) 208-4555, www.thefirstamendment.org. (Cheryl Eddy)

Bein' green They're artful, literate, and fully capable of satisfying all of your rockin'-est desires, but the reason you should experience Frog Eyes live is the voice of Carey Mercer. He leads us with beautiful melodies that trip into dark, Nick Cave-ish lilting and that are too eclectic to pigeonhole and too intense to deny. The Victoria, British Columbia-based group's recently released CD Ego Scriptor (Absolutely Kosher) is a four track-recorded effort that strips down the songs on The Golden River (Animal World) for a more minimal backdrop to Mercer's grandiose tales. The group is on tour with like-minded B.C. native Destroyer and serves as the backing band for its songwriter, Dan Bejar. How they might twist the synthesizer and acoustic guitar medleys found on Destroyer's latest record, Your Blues (Merge), is surely fodder for the message boards. Mountain Goats headline. 9 p.m., Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F. $12. (415) 474-0365. (Ethan Goldwater)

May 27


Punks for print Since Seattle spawned the first Independent Media Center during the World Trade Organization riots in 1999, the global network of community-based media collectives has sprouted more than 100 chapters from Mumbai to Montreal. Throwing fuel on the anticorporate fire, the muckrakers of the Bay Area's IMC have been busy producing segments for Enemy Combatant Radio and Street Level TV and keeping all stripes of local protesters united with Indybay.org. Superspeedway Records' Eddie Haskells play with Verboten, Dying in Your Beauty Sleep, and Middle Class Assassin at Balazo/Mission Badlands Gallery to benefit Faultlines magazine, the newest arm of the IMC octopus. Look for the debut issue of Faultlines to hit the streets during the San Francisco Biotech Conference protests in early June. 9 p.m., Balazo/Mission Badlands Gallery, 2811 Mission, S.F. $5-$10 sliding scale. (415) 550-1108. (Liam O'Donoghue)

May 28


Feel the burn The Mission District's darlings of urban athleticism, Double Dutchess, have outdone themselves once again, this time on video. Switchblade, Valtronic, Little Girl, and Kate Rock present the Bay Area premiere of 'Flextacy,' showing as part of the Artists' Television Access series Open Screening. Originally conceived as a how-to guide on double Dutch jump-roping, "Flextacy" more closely resembles a 1980s aerobic workout video following the ladies' training from sunrise to sunset. Clad in tan tights and matching neon workout gear, the Dutchesses demonstrate their Jane Fonda-meets-Linda Lovelace approach to the finer points of cardiovascular toning. Elaborately choreographed jumping scenes punctuate the action and help to relieve some steam. Highly recommended for the athlete and pervert in everyone. 8 p.m., Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. $5. (415) 824-3890, www.atasite.org. (John Lombardo)

No mercy That sinister cackle you hear wafting down Clement Street can mean only one thing: Midnites for Maniacs is back at the Four Star Theatre, erupting every Friday and Saturday night for the next 10 weeks. The lineup includes old faves like Rock n' Roll High School, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Tron; utter weirdness (The Candy Snatchers, Mulholland Drive); and an array of early Jet Li and Jackie Chan titles. Closing weekend boasts an all-night, bring-your-own-barf-bag triple-header of Miike Takashi thrillers (including Ichi the Killer). But by my estimate, the freakiest programs go down tonight and tomorrow, with a one-two punch of Midnites for Maniacs signature film The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (Friday) and all the horrifying, disco dancing-infant insanity that is Bob Clark's Baby Geniuses (Saturday). Through Aug. 7. Runs Fri.-Sat., midnight, Four Star Theatre, 2200 Clement, S.F. $7. (415) 666-3488, www.hkinsf.com. (Eddy)

May 29


Wheels of steel San Francisco is a city of multitasking freaks, and DJ, promoter, and scribe Toph One is a perfect representative. He's brought us seminal underground parties like Pepper; the Herb Caen Martini Appreciation Society; his Lucky 13 column in XLR8R magazine; and mayhem at the Tunnel Top – let's just say Toph has earned his stripes as a provider of good times, good tunes, and more than enough to drink. Now he's putting all those liquid carbohydrates to good use and joining AIDS/Lifecycle 3 for the daunting task of riding a bike from S.F. to Los Angeles in support of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center. In typical Toph style, he's throwing a party to benefit the cause. With Red Wine DJs Pause, Consuelo, and Toph himself, plus guests like Prozack of Foreign Legion and the Deep Dickollective, it should be a night to remember, that is, if you can the next day. 9 p.m., Milk, 1840 Haight, S.F. $10. (415) 387-6455. (Peter Nicholson)

Begin again It's a tradition in our culture to mark the New Year with a certain amount of sloshed excitement. For the Maya community, however, the culmination of the 260-day ritualistic calendar (a marvel of mathematics and precision, and a companion timekeeper with the Mayan solar calendar) is cause for spiritual reflection – as well as, of course, a festive party. Hosted by local resource center Grupo Maya Qusamej Junan, the 'Maya Sacred Cycle Sunrise Ceremony and Celebration' begins at dawn and continues through the morning with traditional marimba and drum music, pan dulce and chocolate treats, and ceremonial dance. 6-10 a.m., Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th and 20th Sts., S.F. Free. (510) 482-8097. (Eddy)

Secret's out Listening to Hint Hint singer Peter Quirk's caterwauling vocals on "Natural Collegiate" and "Long Branch, New Jersey," off the Seattle quintet's new CD, Young Days (Suicide Squeeze), is like peeking into somebody's disjointed memories of relationships, realizations, and confessions. Against a backdrop of delayed guitar, angular keyboards, throbbing bass, and manic drumming, Quirk seems to be yearning for something from the past. But his tone is defiant, not apathetic, exorcising any pains through the music's ferocity. The listener's experience is cathartic, invigorating, raw – and most important, fun, especially when you're rocking out to the band live. The Detachment Kit headline; Alien Crime Syndicate play first. 10 p.m., Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F. $8. (415) 621-4455. (Sean McCourt)

May 30


Love of fairs Contrary to their name, L.A. Carnival don't hail from that cow town 400 miles south. Instead, this soul band, led by Lester Abrams and Leslie Smith, emerged from Omaha, Neb., in the late 1960s. A part of the Midwest's embarrassingly rich soul-funk tradition, they might have been left to time's neglect if not for their rediscovery by Now-Again Records in Los Angeles. Inspired by the group's dense musical chops – a dizzying mix of folk, funk, and psychedelia – and socially engaged politics on race and injustice, Now-Again recently reissued the band's sole album, Would Like to Pose a Question. Abrams and Smith go one better by joining forces with young funkateers Connie Price and the Keystones and bringing that L.A. Carnival sound back to life. Throw in spins from selectors J-Rocc, Peanut Butter Wolf, Egon, and San Francisco's own Cool Chris, and this show promises to sizzle from the first needle drop to the last cymbal crash. 9 p.m.-2 a.m., Independent, 628 Divisadero, S.F. $15. (415) 771-1420. (Oliver Wang)

Peels are grate The hype surrounding the Peels just keeps building. Recently signed by Capitol Records, the San Francisco-based band (by way of Seattle) seem on the verge of becoming "the next big thing" – but don't let the buzz do the talking. In fact, ignore the talking altogether and just check out their music, which more than speaks for itself. Tight new wave- and pop-peppered punk blasts like "Only Son" and "You Talk Too Much" showcase the group's talent for writing and performing songs that, while they may not break any new musical ground, still rock and are well worth a listen. The Peels play with Cold War and Main Frame. 8 p.m., Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk, S.F. $7. (415) 921-1695. (McCourt)

May 31


Coasting Forget that old rivalry – it seems 'NYC Loves the West Coast,' if only for the duration of an experimental showcase of "New York City films for the West Coast audience" (insert low-carb joke here). Patron saint of the participating artists is the extraordinary Robert Beck, a soldier wounded in World War I whose recovery can be summed up by this old newspaper headline: "Movies Cure Deaf-Mute." Several members of NYC's Robert Beck Memorial Cinema, which hosts weekly screenings of avant-garde works, are among the presenters tonight. Of particular local interest is Marie Losier's "Bird, Bath, and Beyond," a black-and-white live action-animation exploration that features fellow filmmaker (and part-time San Franciscan) Mike Kuchar's musings on being born, cannibalism, sharks, the cosmos, shopping malls, pet parakeets, and other topics. 8 p.m., Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. $5. (415) 824-3890, www.atasite.org. (Eddy)

June 1


Remember to wipe Expect some spittle in your face if you sit in the front row at the Vowel Movement, 'cause beatboxers, fresh ta' def as they are, don't give a shit about germs. Rhythm vocalists Kid Beyond and Tim Barsky host this night of hocking hip-hop, complete with spoken word, random musings, and live-loop tributes to Portishead. On tonight's bill are headliners Infinite and Soulati of Felonious, a San Francisco ensemble known to turn hip-hop shows into ass-moving musical theater. Unexpected guests often arrive at this monthly gathering, so witness some of the dopest organic teamwork since Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh. And for all you beatboxers, an open mic during the show lets new spit-kickers take the stage. Towels not provided. 8-10:30 p.m., StudioZ.tv, 314 11th St., S.F. $5-$15 sliding scale. (415) 252-7666, www.thevowelmovement.com. (Dave Kim)

June 2


Oops, I did it again Summer means Shakespeare in the Bay Area, and one of the region's heaviest hitters, California Shakespeare Theater, kicks off its season with The Comedy of Errors. Cast members like Brian Keith Russell (Campo Santo's Soul of a Whore) and Ron Campbell (R. Buckminster Fuller: The History [and Mystery] of the Universe); an array of puppets; and live, original music no doubt ensure this version of the madcap tale of two sets of twin brothers will be a memorable one. This year's schedule, which runs through mid-October, also includes a new adaptation of Henry IV; a quick Bard break with The Importance of Being Earnest; and All's Well that End's Well. Through June 27. Previews June 2-4, 8 p.m. Opens June 5, 8 p.m. Runs Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. (also June 26, 2 p.m.); Sun., 4 p.m., Bruns Memorial Amphitheater, 100 Gateway, Orinda. $13-$52. (510) 548-9666, www.calshakes.org. (Eddy)

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May 19, 2004