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Anarchism for Dummies 

Noam if you want to

WED 6/29

Calling all lapsed anarchists! If you were one of those dorm-room anarchists with dirt under your fingernails and the answers to everything, you're already familiar with Noam Chomsky. But maybe something happened in the years post-college -- did you get up-to-here with the MIT linguist's constant, trenchant, depressing criticism? Did you come to the end of your nonhierarchical answers and start wondering where his were? Let's face it, the guy kicks a lot of right-wing-hypocrite ass, but what does he think anyone's going to do to improve the situation? (The same question could be leveled at other lefty commentators -- Michael Moore and Al Franken, I'm looking at you.) Local anti-authoritarian Barry Pateman's new collection, Chomsky on Anarchism, claims to get at the other side of the prolific writer. "We all know what Noam Chomsky is against," publisher AK Press points out, but "... very little ever gets said about what exactly Chomsky stands for, his own personal politics, his vision of the future."

Here, it seems, is Chomsky you can read without wanting to jump off a bridge. Made up of interviews and essays (surprise!), the book includes some rare early material that Pateman must have scrounged from the eldest archives of Bound Together and Bolerium Books, unpublished stuff from pamphlets and the like. What was venerable, gray-haired Chomsky up to as a teenager? Soak in this and other inspiring info as you give anarchism and its most vocal proponent a second chance. Pateman reads from the collection starting at 8 p.m. at Black Oak Books, 540 Broadway (at Columbus), S.F. Admission is free; call 986-3872 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Heavy Metallic

ONGOING 6/30-8/14

Metalworkers in the arts have a lot going for them: The medium is inherently butch, the work must be intensely satisfying, and when finished, plenty of the resulting pieces can be wielded as weapons. And now there's something else to glorify the Hephaestus-worshippers: "California Art Metal Now!" is a savvy exhibition of local jewelry, sculpture, and other assorted creative objects. The show includes jurors Suzanne Baizerman, Paul Mahder, and Shana Astrachan and 40-some artists working in steel, silver, chicken wire, and more. Metalheads, rejoice. The opening reception starts at 6 p.m. Thursday and boasts live music by the Unsmokables (and the exhibit continues through Aug. 14) at the Blue Room Gallery, 2331 Mission (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-8411 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Sober Living
Frey picks up the pieces

THURS 6/30

When James Frey's rehab memoir A Million Little Pieces dropped two years ago, the world (or precisely, the media) jumped at the chance to mint a new alcoholic/addict cult hero. His new book, My Friend Leonard, chronicles his post-Hazelden life with the titular Leonard, beginning with the author in jail -- where he's vintage Frey: tough, spiritual, and dramatic -- and featuring more of his put-it-all-down prose; he has a true disdain for quotation marks and the comma, recalling Hubert Selby's groundbreaking drug novels from decades past. This time around, though, Frey lacks some of the inherent drama associated with coming off a 10-year run of self-immobilization. He's just trying to get a life. With two books now under his belt, looks like he got one. Frey reads at 12:30 p.m. at the Book Passage, Ferry Building, Embarcadero & Market, S.F. Admission is free; call 835-1020 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton

Wet Biology
Get close to stem cells

ONGOING 7/1-1/8

Forget the stem cell debate for a moment; now's your chance to see the specimens as scientists do: through a microscope. At the "Interactive Live Mouse Stem Cell Exhibit," the first of its kind, visitors get the opportunity to view the cells in their state of becoming, transitioning from their pluripotent form (the undifferentiated state, with the potential to become different cell types) toward something more specialized: cardiac myocytes, which will eventually become a mob of writhing heart cells. (Which will power a mouse, not a human, so put down the bullhorn.)

How is this interactive? You control the microscopes, selecting specimens to view, magnifying them, and generally playing the ridiculously educated stem cell-researcher guy. The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. Friday (and runs through Jan. 8, 2006) at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Marina), S.F. Admission is free-$13; call 397-5673 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton

The Sant Mat Way

THURS 6/30

Granted, meditation is best done alone. But learning meditation is a different thing altogether, and sitting before a master is the surest way to get an inner-peace instruction manual that actually works. The Know Thyself As Soul Foundation smooths the process by offering a free class on the practice of Sant Mat meditation, which, according to the foundation's Web site, concerns the "science of the soul" and is not associated with any religion; the craft provides self-knowledge through mystical principles known as "inner light" and "inner sound." The class starts at 7 p.m. at Fort Mason Center, Building C, Room C220, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Call 345-7575 or visit
-- Michael Leaverton


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