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Breaker, Breaker 

A runaway success

SUN 5/15

Giant centipedes and spawning salmon racing through San Francisco in Nikes -- is the environmental apocalypse wrought by Big Oil finally here? Relax, it's only Bay to Breakers. This notoriously absurd celebration is also one of the biggest serious footraces in the world, drawing around 80,000 runners each year. But no one gets up that early on a Sunday to see the actual race. Joggers, walkers, and lazy slobs who gawk from their porches along the Panhandle all come out to see the packs of Elvises, the traveling tiki huts dispensing tropical drinks, and, of course, the naked people who usually compete (and bounce and swing) in this fantastical moving block party stretching 7.46 miles from one end of the city to the other. Participants can get geared up at the expo two days before the race and then celebrate finishing it at the Footstock festival afterward. But the real revelry takes place when the flying tortilla shells hit the fan at 8 a.m. at Howard and Spear streets, S.F. Registration is $29.50-40; call 359-2800 or visit
-- Jack Karp

Game Theory

THURS 5/12

Our junior high PE classes taught us a lot of things -- for example, boys look good in tight white pants, and the kids picked last turn out to be the coolest grown-ups. Michael Lewis shares his own nuggets of wisdom from his new book, Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life, an homage to his high school baseball trainer. Coach Fitz terrified his adolescent charges into living up to their potential with what the writer calls "Vesuvian fury." Lewis must have gotten something out of this tough love, since he's now a successful author (Moneyball) and husband to ex MTV newscaster Tabitha Soren. Hear him speak at 6 p.m. at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is $12-18; call 597-6700 or visit
-- Jane Tunks

No Man's Island
Floating around

ONGOING 5/11-6/30

Sonja Meller's installations are some of our favorites. We first fell for her golden fruits with tiny music boxes inside each one, hung in a tree inside Oakland's Chapel of the Chimes. Now, she's outdone herself: The Unknown Island is a small, partially anchored boat, home to a single oak tree and some flowers. As it moves around Lake Merritt, the artist e-mailed us, she hopes it becomes "a temporary landmark for the city." Meller also writes that she took inspiration from a story by Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, but the project reminds us of the dreamy prose of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. It's rich with possibilities for metaphor -- and also plain fun to see. The island floats around until June 30 in Lake Merritt, Grand & Lakeshore, Oakland.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser


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