Agony v. Ecstasy
By Hiya Swanhuyser
Anyone who's ever attended a poetry reading knows: Twenty minutes is an eternity. It can be the Hundred Years War, the Long March, and the extended dance remix, all stretched out into one. Even if you're a devoted lover of verse and an egoless person who's completely given up the desire to mock others -- yet alas, you are not -- two times 10 minutes can be painful. And at the Bay Area Summer Poetry Marathon, that's how long each poet gets. The situation requires philosophy: "You give up the agony and experience the ecstasy," as poet-participant Trane DeVore once put it. His epigram also points out that if you enjoy the performance, it's never long enough -- like if the reader were Anne Waldman, a former participant, or local scribe Kevin Killian, who read last month. We'd love to hear David Larsen go on at length. Local and imported poets started May 26 and continue tonight, July 28, and Aug. 25 with their nice long readings. But organizers Joseph Lease and Donna de la Perriere know what they're doing: This is Poetry Marathon No. 7.
Date/Time: Sat., June 30, Sat., July 28, Sat., August 25
Event Location: The Lab
2948 16th St. (at Capp)
San Francisco, CA 94103
Sondheim Kills Me
By Brock Keeling
After writing Sunday in the Park With George (about Georges Seurat's famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte) and Into the Woods (about fucked-up fairy tale characters), Stephen Sondheim went and wrote a musical about a band of merry idealists: presidential assassins. Featuring nine killers, some on-target and some unsuccessful, the Americana-tinged Assassins is one the best musicals ever to grace the floorboards of this fine country. Luminaries like John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Leon Czolgosz (McKinley's killer) sing some of Sondheim's finest work. The dreamy "Unworthy of Your Love," for example, features John Hinckley and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme singing an ode to Jodie Foster and Charles Manson, respectively. And the finale has all of the Oval Office-loathers meeting at the infamous Texas School Book Depository, goading Oswald into the history books. But don't get me wrong: This is neither a day at Dolores Park catching the amusing antics of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, nor is it wholly a satire of American politics. (I suspect the Bay Area has enough of that twee and tired fluff to last us well until the next century.) It concerns more than politics: Assassins is about the right to be happy.
Date/Time: Daily from Fri., June 15 until Sat., July 21
The Custom Stage
965 Mission St. (at sixth)
San Francisco, CA 94103
By Tamara Palmer
S.F. community art project the Trash Mash-Up has a motto for turning clean castoffs into "Maskostumes": "Finding a new way with old objects." By regularly hosting workshops for students from the Western Addition (an area that's been particularly and tragically embattled over recent weeks), TMU is doing more than just beautifying the area and being nice to the planet; it's giving sincere muscle to that mission statement. The first annual Mash-Up Bash is a music and performance-filled pageant showing off these recent efforts, but don't worry: It won't be nearly as trashy as those pageants you see on TV. For kids landlocked in the center of the city with tensions bubbling all around, something that sounds so simple could be an expressive stress relief.
Date/Time: Sat., June 30, 2:00pm
Event Phone: 752-5537
Event URL: http://www.trashmashup.googlepages.com/
Geary & Steiner
San Francisco, CA 94115
By Mark Keresman
Rolling Stone magazine (People for older young people) has canonized Under Byen -- winners of several Danish music awards -- as "probably the best band in the world." Talk about a build-up -- especially since UB aren't exactly a "rock" band in the usual sense. While they've got the essentials (guitar/feedback, bass, drums), their sound is also defined by other, stranger sounds: piano and strings that recall classical music, unsettling percussion cadences reminiscent of Einstürzende Neubauten, and the torch-singer-from-the-Twilight Zone vocals of Henriette Sennenvaldt. Some might think she "sings like" Bjork, but the Icelandic vocalist projects adolescence, as opposed to the Nico-like cool of Ms. Sennenvaldt. Together since the mid-'90s, Under Byen has three discs to their credit though only their latest, Samme Stof Som Stof, is available here (via Paper Bag Records). SSSS is the latest thing in appealingly uneasy listening, ranging from the stripped-down synth-pop of "Af Samme Stof Som Stof" to the orchestral elegy "Liste Over Sande Venner Og Forbilleder." The Album Leaf and Arthur & Yu open.
Date/Time: Sat., June 30, 9:00pm
333 11th St. (at Folsom)
San Francisco, CA 94103
They Bought It
By Michael Leaverton
It seems insane now, but in the mid-'60s, kids living in the Midwest had to rely on the national news to discover what they were missing by living in the Midwest. Fortunately, Harry Reasoner had their backs. The CBS-produced The Hippie Temptation, which aired in August 1967, had the veteran newsman tromping around the Haight, struggling to capture just what the fuck these goddamn kids thought they were doing with their insane ideas about music, hair, free food, peace, and healthcare for all. The broadcast doubtlessly caused hundreds of young things to rise hypnotically from the wall-to-wall, untuck their shirts, and hitch-hike to our promised land, with little more than an over-the-shoulder "see ya, square!" (or perhaps "so long, fascist!") thrown back at the old man. Along with reporter Warren Wallace, Reasoner examined what went down during the iconic Summer of Love, casting his sharp eye on hippies, psychiatrists, Jerry Garcia, the Haight Asbury Free Clinic, LSD, the Diggers, Hippie Hill, and a light show at the Avalon Ballroom.
A San Francisco favorite, The Hippie Temptation plays at 2, 4, 7:15, and 9:15 p.m. (also Friday).
Date/Time: Daily from Sat., June 30 until Sun., July 1
Red Vic Movie House
1727 Haight (at Cole)
San Francisco, CA 94117