Sure signs of summer in S.F. -- long lines at Mitchell's Ice Cream, topless female sunbathers at Dolores Park, and a cavalcade of outdoor music festivals. Case in point: Alice's Summerthing, a daylong helping of mellow altrock and beach-blanket socializing sponsored by radio's 97.3 FM. Headliners are Sixpence None the Richer -- known for 1999's monster hit "Kiss Me" and for covering other bands' singles, like Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" -- and Macy Gray, the raspy-voiced neo-soul diva who hit it big in 1998 with "I Try." Local boys Luce will also do their orchestral-funk rock thing.
Alice offers a few other goodies for attendees -- a climbing wall, paint-your-own rock posters, and (ooh!) free cholesterol screenings -- but the classic combo of hot rock and hot rays (we hope) is the real draw. The free all-ages show (bring ID if you plan to swill in the sunshine) starts at noon in Golden Gate Park's Speedway Meadow (JFK Drive west of Crossover); call 765-4097 or visit www.radioalice.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Another reason not to miss the North Beach Festival
The word on the street is that Mayor Willie Brown won't be able to attend the 49th annual North Beach Festival this weekend, but no matter -- Da Mayor will be there in effigy. Event organizers are honoring Brown with a life-size likeness, carved entirely out of cheddar cheese. (The bust will be unveiled at 4 p.m. on Sunday.) Brown's cheesy tribute isn't the only thing to look forward to: Annual favorites include the Arte di Gesso (street chalk art) demonstrations and the Blessing of the Animals, which takes place at the St. Francis of Assisi Shrine (Vallejo & Columbus) at 2 p.m. on both days. Other highlights include live music and poetry readings. The free fest runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Washington Square Park (Columbus & Union) and on the 1200 to 1500 blocks of Grant Avenue; call 989-2220.
-- Lisa Hom
Chalk One Up
In the 16th century, itinerant Italian artists created an art form no less ephemeral and (in the beginning) no less spiritual than Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas. Called Madonnari for their habit of re-creating religious iconography, these artists used chalk on the pavement of town squares, timing their travels so the pieces would be on display during major festivals. Modern Madonnari have taken to throwing their own festivals, like the one this weekend. The Youth in Arts group celebrates 10 years of hosting the Italian Street Painting Festival by asking artists to replicate Michelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel -- on city streets. See the pretty pavement starting at 9 a.m. at Fifth and A streets, San Rafael. Admission is free; call 457-4878 or visit www.youthinarts.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser