If I were feeling so deeply depressed that my relationships were suffering, I wouldn't be ashamed to seek out the advice of trained professionals -- professionals like Matthew Fox and Paula Devicq, who, while not doctors, play really depressed characters on Party of Five, or professionals like John Gray, whose book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus has sold more copies than the Bible, according to his publicist. And if things got really bad, I might even consult a doctor, but I'd make sure he had a show on MTV, someone like Dr. Drew Pinsky. For the convenience of every dysfunctional, dejected media dupe in the area, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association present a public discussion called "Intimacy and Depression: The Silent Epidemic" where all four of these thought-provoking individuals will be in attendance. I imagine audience members arriving in straitjackets or beating their significant others about the head with Nerf bats until security clears the Herbst Theater on Wednesday, May 13, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 392-4400.
Obvious vocal comparisons to a young Bob Dylan aside, Dan Bern is an urban folk singer well-suited to rejuvenating a fatigued tradition -- not because he's particularly deep or poetic or globally minded, but because he's recklessly honest and just a touch absurd. (Bern has stumbled on a truth long upheld by the working class of Britain: If you get 'em laughing, you can say just about anything.) When Bern careens surreally between the philosophy of Cassius Clay, the sexual habits of Madonna, and the handicap of Tiger Woods (as he is wont to do), we're happy to follow. This is not some pompous artist, after all, this is our old buddy Dan, who makes us feel almost welcome in modern-day humanity. That's called folk music. Dan Bern performs at the Great American Music Hall on Thursday, May 14, with Chris Chandler opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $11; call 885-0750.
If the gritty, raw, unapologetic drunks in stories by Charles Bukowski and Nelson Algren make you feel sort of warm and fuzzy, documentary filmmaker Wilmer Wisler is your kind of guy. Spend a few minutes with an escaped mental patient, a blind raconteur, a porn writer, a film pimp, a homeless entrepreneur, and an insane historian as they obsess about booze and death and crush out cigarettes on their own faces. It's the kind of real-life humor folks have come to expect from 8mmAnonymous shows. This is the first in a three-part series titled "Stories for Those With Short Attention Spans," which will be held at San Francisco City College as part of the Black Cinema class at noon on Monday, May 18. Admission is free; call 239-3651.
Was it hypercritical to question the plausibility of Flashdance, in which a pleasantly perspiring welder turns pleasantly perspiring dancer who turns industrial surroundings into questionable art? It was if you believe the story behind Tap Dogs: Choreographer Dein Perry was a man born to tap -- as, apparently, were many of the men who grew up in the small town of Newcastle, Australia. Sadly, most of the town's aspiring dancers resigned themselves to working as machinists in the local steel mill. Then one day, Perry hit it big and he called up all his old mill-chums. Together they formed the Tap Dogs -- a beefy dance/carpenter troupe that constructs big stuff onstage while tap dancing in little more than cutoff jean shorts. Too good to be true, huh? Tap Dogs open at the Golden Gate Theater on Tuesday, May 19, at 8 p.m. The show continues through May 31. Tickets are $17-39.50; call 776-1999.
-- Silke Tudor