2) Valentine's Day Sex Tour at the S.F. Zoo (Feb. 14) While the guided tour on Lusty Lady's "Play Day" might be a better way to learn how a human rectum looks after being distended by a large eggplant, the zoo tour comes with complementary champagne and truffles, a ride on the Zebra train, and a whole slew of sassy fun facts: When in heat, the female giraffe urinates on herself at the sight of a male; the penis on an African elephant is 5 feet long and contains as many muscles as his trunk; the black rhino has a daffodil-shaped member; and none of them has an amorous attachment to eggplant.
3) Jim Carroll at the Great American Music Hall (April 20) Jim Carroll arrives in a new suit, the first that the poet has ever owned. It is gun-barrel gray and made entirely of velvet, proving that George Costanza isn't the only New Yorker who has fantasies about being draped in that particular cloth.
4) Skydive Hollister This is a place where modern-day Hemingways make their living pushing pimply-faced city kids out of planes. Here, it's OK to say, "Grab the bull and you're gonna get the horns," and mean it. It is also OK to express the experience of falling out of the sky in two words or less.
5) Jim White, The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus Carved from the same fundamentalist Christian brimstone as Flannery O'Connor, White explores the dark, seeping crevices that reside within angels, hurricanes, insomniacs, lovers, and martyrs. Meanwhile, his sweet-tipped voice sweeps across the open plains of the dusty Oklahoma panhandle. Musically, Wrong-Eyed Jesus is as scrambled as the bramble it explores, and when White sings, "I whisper beautiful secrets into a drain pipe," he's not just being poetic.
6) The Wiz at Oakland's Paramount Theater (June 11) The cast, featuring CeCe Peniston, Grace Jones, and Peabo Bryson, gives big-name flash to the stage production, but it is the crowd -- dressed in Sunday suits, patent leather shoes, and flashing ruby gowns -- that gives the show life. "Get it, girl!" "Run, Dorothy!" they shout. The gold-gilt majesty of the Paramount Theater seems positively wan next to its patrons.
7) The Redskins, Neither Washington Nor Moscow With the CD rerelease of this album goes my last reason for owning a record player. The Redskins -- a little-known group from Leeds that Chris Dean (aka NME journalist X Moore) founded in the early '80s -- made an unlikely fusion of soul music, punk mettle, and hard-line socialist politics. Dean claims that his ambition had been to sing like the Supremes and walk like the Clash; this album is evidence that, at times, he did better than both.
8) "Stinky's Peepshow" This year marked the opening of Night Crawler's home away from home (not the Skylark as many have come to suggest -- the Skylark would be the place where Night Crawler goes to escape home, not to embrace it). "Stinky's," a Thursday-night shindig at the Covered Wagon, has real rock bands, DJs who indulge in back-seat favorites from the 1970s, hefty go-go dancers willing to pummel you with their breasts, men with big belt buckles who pretend to be illiterate, and the ever-lingering promise of cocktail weenies. Kind of brings a tear to the eye.
9) The Goddamnbest (Aug. 27) This local band inspired a road documentary, sold out the Chameleon, and received numer-ous WAMMIES nominations. They never actually existed.
10) Mick Harvey, Intoxicated Man This is a loving interpretation of Serge Gainsbourg's finest songs by Nick Cave's most substantial sideman -- evidence of the genesis behind the Bad Seeds genius. Even the silences give you goose bumps.
11) Irvine Welsh at Liquid (Nov. 7) The author of Trainspotting spins at "Royal Jelly," proving that, in some cases, the word is mightier than the music that inspired it.
12) "Christmas With Christina Crawford" at the Castro (Dec. 19) Producer Marc Huestis, fine purveyor of sick and slightly sadistic holiday entertainment, outdoes himself. Surpassing even last year's screening of Female Trouble -- accompanied by a lecture by the unsurpassable John Waters -- Huestis invites Joan Crawford's daughter to attend a screening of Mommie Dearest, a film about a starlet mother (played by Faye Dunaway) who habitually abuses her daughter. Coat hangers are strung across the stage. The cast of the play Christmas With the Crawfords is on hand as well. After a pageant of JC look-alikes, Christina explains the reality of her life. She is good-natured, sincere, funny, and surprisingly stalwart; when the movie rolls, Joan Crawford, the queen of all queens, receives only hisses and catty remarks from those who normally worship her.
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By Silke Tudor