King of the Wild Frontier If we could do it all over again we'd probably be sorry, or at least that's the sense we get from playwright Peter Carlaftes' most recent theatrical vision, Frontier a Go-Go. A man living on the Nebraska plains circa 1872 uses a time machine to summon a hippie drifter and a budding feminist who have just conceived a daughter at a rock concert in 1972, and then summons the daughter, aged 25, from her 1997 date with a cybergeek. The scientific stranger, who may or may not be related to them, brings them together to iron out the wrinkles of the future, but he ends up snarling the past when everyone tries to create revisionist personal histories. Director Carlaftes, who played God in his last show at the Marilyn, Anity, returns to the stage in this comic piece, which opens at 9 p.m. (and runs through March 21) at the Marilyn Monroe Memorial Theater, 96 Lafayette (at 11th Street), S.F. Admission is $15; call 552-3034.
Golden Girls It takes a missionary to ruin a man's sex life in David Henry Hwang's Golden Child, the story of an East-West culture clash inspired by stories Hwang's grandmother told him about his great-grandfather's family. The drama, set in Manhattan and early 20th-century China, unfolds courtesy of daughter Ahn, who describes the tumult after her father converts to Christianity and sets off a power struggle among his three wives. Regular moviegoers may remember Jeremy Irons' turn in the movie version of Hwang's M. Butterfly, and ought to recognize at least two of the three actresses playing the wives in Child: Tsai Chin (First Wife) appeared in Red Corner and The Joy Luck Club; and Ming-Na Wen (Third Wife), who also appeared in The Joy Luck Club, is Wesley Snipes' wronged spouse in Mike Figgis' One Night Stand. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 15) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $11-51; call 749-2228.
Urban Trails and Tiger Tails The only treasure hunt happening locally on the American New Year is the exhaustive and often fruitless quest for cabs. The Chinese New Year's Treasure Hunt, on the other hand, is an organized quest with a potluck party and champagne toasts waiting on the other end. Teams race through the streets and alleys of Chinatown, the Financial District, and North Beach, guided by a series of cryptic clues incorporating local lore, penned by private investigator Jayson Wechter. A sample: "On the little street of maidens, look for the sign of the double C, and Frank Lloyd's circle is what you'll see." Easy, right? Double C, maidens ... something near the Chanel store on Maiden Lane. There are three levels of difficulty to this game, though, so if the beginner's category seems too simple, sleuths can try their luck in the regular or master's divisions. What makes this year's race particularly appealing, aside from the pleasure of matching wits with strangers and raising money for the Bay Area Women's and Children's Center, is that it takes place during the Chinese New Year Parade, so the hundreds of participating detectives are forced to think clearly in the midst of festive chaos. The hunt begins at 5 p.m. at Pier 1/2, Market & the Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is $17-20; call 564-9400. The parade begins at 6 p.m. at Steuart & Market, S.F. Admission is free; call 982-3000. For more Chinese New Year events, see our Calendar listings on Page 24.
Whistle-Stop Thousands of toy trains will be chugging and whistling down thousands of miles of track, past petite schools and tiny shops, through dense forests of thumb-high trees, around lakes the size of dinner plates, and alongside green pastures where miniature spotted cows nibble Astroturf. The preciousness index practically shoots through the roof, in other words, at the Great American Train Show, at which model train enthusiasts and collectors have been known to plunk down hundreds of dollars each year to re-create train routes and quaint small-scale towns in exacting detail. The show begins at 11 a.m. (also Sunday) at the Cow Palace, Geneva & Santos, Daly City. Admission is free-$5; call 469-6065.
Alice in Slumberland Alice, the local radio station whose slogan might as well be "No worries!," continues its Alice on Stage concert promotion with Florida's Sister Hazel. Like other bands in the Alice orbit (Blues Traveler, Counting Crows, Spin Doctors, Hootie, et al.), Sister Hazel don't rock, but are just too dull to provoke any really strenuous objections. Pointing to James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac as influences, the band delivers clean-scrubbed melodies and a crystalline, folky blend of slide and acoustic guitars, layered with an earnest homespun wisdom that typically involves the innocence of children and the poignancy of old men. On their album ... Somewhere More Familiar, Sister Hazel take us out for walks on the beach and confide in us: "I've seen a lot of sad people," laments singer Ken Block. "I've seen a lot of strange things/ I've seen a lot of bad people/ Do a lot of bad things." We feel your pain, bra. Behan Johnson opens the show at 9 p.m. at Bimbo's, 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), S.F. Admission is $12; call 474-0365.
Fly Boys Actor Peter Callender, who played great-great-grandfather T.J. in ACT's recent production of Insurrection: Holding History, offers a slice of neglected history as the director of Black Eagles, a staged reading of Leslie Lee's drama about the Tuskegee Airmen. Presented in conjunction with the Legion of Honor's "Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance" exhibit, Lee's play tells the story of the 99th Squadron, the first black pilots allowed to fly U.S. military aircraft in World War II, where they escorted bombers on missions over Europe. The pilots entered the war in Italy in 1944 before then-President Harry Truman desegregated the troops, and apparently received little to no recognition for their work when they returned home. Callender and Lee hope to amend the oversight slightly with this show, which begins at 8 p.m. at ODC Performance Gallery, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Black Eagles also plays Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Florence Gould Theater, Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, Clement & 34th Avenue, S.F. Admission to both shows is by donation; call 243-9899.
Nightlife Jitters "David Lee Roth makes quite a picture as he stands in front of his dressing-room mirror at Detroit's Cobo Arena. Arching his hips lewdly and tugging at the waistband of his ruby-red spandex tights until the elastic crotch bulges like a gaudy Christmas stocking crammed with apples and bananas, Van Halen's lead singer preens and postures like a bestial champion of autoeroticism." So begins "Van Halen: The Endless Party," a chapter taken from Mikal Gilmore's Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock & Roll, which culls several years' worth of Gilmore's interviews, reviews, essays, and articles from the L.A. Herald Examiner and Rolling Stone. Gilmore hands us the backstage pass we never had with some of these pieces, and skirts the bright lights with others: A week after Kurt Cobain's death, Gilmore wandered around the singer's hometown of Aberdeen, holing up in a tavern with Nirvana's first drummer, Aaron Burckhard, who was fired over his drinking problem. Like rock, Gilmore's chronicle is by turns lucid, hilarious, aggravating, exhilarating, and weird, and like his subjects, Gilmore has seen his share of personal highs and lows; he wrote his first book, Shot in the Heart, about his older brother Gary, a death-row convict executed by firing squad. Gilmore reads at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 2352 Shattuck (at Durant), Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 644-0861. He'll also read Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688.