San Francisco's Tenderloin is home to more than just the clank of hooker heels. It's a thriving place for art, too, and much of that is owed to the Luggage Store. Founded by local artists and residents who banded together in 1987 to commit to community-building through the arts, the Luggage Store -- which is not a satchel-selling operation, mind you -- operates three venues in the Tenderloin, presents a dozen curated exhibitions each year (along with 150 performing arts events), and devises socially conscious art and education programs to open up cross-cultural dialogue. It also hosts a slamming outdoor arts party every fall -- the In the Street Festival -- which focuses on both traditional and wildly experimental street theater. This year's event features more than 40 performances, everything from circus acts and aerial dance to women's skateboarding. Highlights include the athletic artistry of the Abadá-Capoeira Afro-Brazilian dance troupe, the transcendent and deliciously spazzed-out spectacle of the Extra Action Marching Band, and the heady moves of the Original Fat Bottom Revue, a sexy big-burlesque in which all of the strippers are plump in the rump. You'll also find hip hop, Lindy Hop, butoh, and fire dancing at the fair. And if you want to bask in your own reflection, artist Albert Reyes will spit-paint your visage on the Tenderloin sidewalk. The festival begins on Friday at 5 p.m. (and continues Saturday starting at 11 a.m.) along the 500 block of Ellis Street between Leavenworth and Hyde, S.F. Admission is free; visit www.luggagestoregallery.org.
-- Karen Macklin
Local writer Mary Roach is now officially obsessed with death. Her first book, Stiff, explored our mortal remains; she returns with Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, which tries to pin down the whereabouts of the postmortem soul by investigating claims made by charlatans and scientists. Of particular interest is the struggle to weigh the soul by measuring weight loss at death (21 grams, declares Duncan Macdougall), the mystery of mediums who extrude ectoplasm (it's gauze), and the modern attempt to prove near-death experiences with a monitor facing the operating room ceiling, visible only to those out-of-body. Roach reads at 7 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness (at Golden Gate), S.F. Admission is free; call 441-6670 or visit www.bookstore.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
Go to Diego
The Diego Rivera mural at the City Club is one of San Francisco's interesting ironies. Made by a world-famous left-wing artist, the allegory of California remains ensconced in a place (at the time of Rivera's painting, it was the Stock Exchange) known more for its embrace of capitalism than for any liberal leanings. Adding to the irony is the fact that the club is private: The mural painted by one of public art's greatest champions is usually not open to the public. This evening, though, at the "City Club's 75th Anniversary," it is. Not every member of the public can afford the pricey entrance fee, but for those who can spare the scratch, this is your chance. Take it. The cocktail reception starts at 6 at the City Club, 155 Sansome (at Sutter), S.F. Admission is $50; call 362-2480.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
They produce their own magazines, apparently
You're an artist and you're tired. Tired of sending out endless amounts of work to galleries and publications that never respond. Tired of being at the mercy of capitalist curators and publishers. Tired of your visions being only half-realized. So what's the best thing to do? Dream up your own zine. A new exhibition recognizing four folks who did just that, "The Zine Unbound: Kults, Werewolves and Sarcastic Hippies," features the work of several mixed-media and highly collaborative do-it-yourself publications that employ techniques like silk-screening, hand printing, and werewolf worshipping.
Scott Hug's K48 (Brooklyn), Trinie Dalton's Werewolf Express (Los Angeles), and Griffin McPartland and Chris Duncan's Hot & Cold (Oakland) move from the page to the gallery wall Thursday at 6 p.m. (continuing through Dec. 30) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is free-$6; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org.
-- Karen Macklin
Kids these days: They're stone crazy. The radio stations go to all that trouble to make overproduced, meaningless pop available to them 24/7, and what do they do? They flip out over screechy, hardscrabble folk-country like Two Gallants'. The getting-huge Gallants make heartfelt Americana, full of finger-picked guitars and, fan me, harmonica. Drawing far more on Bob Dylan and Fugazi than on any of their mainstream peers, Adam Stephenson and Tyson Vogel set out running in the opposite direction from the Hilary Duffs of this world, and they've gone far. The Trainwreck Riders and Holy Ghost Revival open at 10 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F. Admission is $12; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser