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House Of Tudor 

Taboo: The Art of Tiki, "Smashing 1980s," Hellacopters, Dance-Along Nutcracker, Sixteen Horsepower

Wednesday, Dec 1 1999
For three years, a misdirected invite to a Southern California art opening has hung above my desk. The show was called "21st Century Tiki" and the indispensable artwork on the front is Mark Ryden's Tiki God, a feathery-hued amalgamation of Polynesian lore and Catholic symbolism that includes a benevolent pineapple and a doll-like child in a grass skirt. At once pleasing, disturbing, evocative, and silly, Tiki God exemplifies what urban archaeologist and tiki-culture expert Sven Kirsten calls "post-Polynesian Pop" -- contemporary tiki art that conjures the fashionable naiveté of the '50s and '60s craze while somehow bearing the weight of present-day cultural literacy. Taboo: The Art of Tiki -- the stunning, full-color book that is the result of 25-year-old Australian Martin McIntosh's odd-placed passion -- offers some of the greatest examples of tiki art from the last two decades, everything from erector set totems to Estrus band fliers, hotel signs, and a vivid selection of paintings from the likes of Ryden. An illuminating introduction by Kirsten is also included in Taboo, as is a loving tribute to iconic velvet-art painter Edgar Leeteg, and an era-invoking essay by Boyd Rice, who was an early supporter of exotica savant Martin Denny. Just in time for Christmas, McIntosh will be selling and signing his newly released book on Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Lilo Lounge with Tiki News' DJ Otto von Stroheim (who is amply thanked in the introduction) spinning at 8:30 p.m. Admission is free; call 643-5678. Also at "Tiki-Sploitation! A Celebration of Pop Polynesia" on Thursday, Dec. 9, at the Parkway Theater in Oakland -- alongside Stroheim, the Devil-Ettes, and author John Turner, who will be signing his newly released Leeteg of Tahiti: Villa Velour. Celebrity tiki-collector Bruce Berry will also be on hand to contribute prizes for the trivia contest run by hosts Will the Thrill and Monica the Tiki Goddess. Show is at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $5; call (510) 814-2400.

The decade is coming to a close and so, sadly, are the smashing decade parties. The second-to-last installment, "Smashing 1980s," promises old Macs, archaic video games, break dancing productions, an '80s fashion show, and everything from new wave to acid house from DJs Shindog, Alaric, Tonto, Thermal, and Haus. Blasthaus will supply visuals and obsolete media on Friday, Dec. 3, at the DNA Lounge at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 552-1346.

Chosen as touring partners for both Kiss and the Supersuckers, the Hellacopters are proof positive that Sweden has more to offer than dancing queens. Grande Rock rides an electrified rail between Motörhead and the MC5, with odes to the impeccable style of both Paul Stanley and Satan. Pretty tough to beat. The Hellacopters support the Supersuckers on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, at Slim's with Zen Guerrilla opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 255-0333.

I have found the best antidote for holiday despair is wanton foolishness and senseless humiliation. To that end, Dance-Along Nutcracker is a long-standing tradition in which spectators are given colorful tutus and asked to leap and frolic along with real dancers -- this season, 4- to 7-year-olds from the Shan-Yee Poon Ballet School -- accompanied by the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band and Cheer San Francisco. From experience, I can guarantee even the most stalwart scrooge will leave sweaty and smiling. Dance-Along Nutcracker will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17-25; call 978-2787.

Dripping with bracken Louisiana backwaters and weathered by touring and strife, Sixteen Horsepower's 1997 album Low Estate emerged sounding, to me, musically finer but lyrically weaker than the band's startling debut Sackcloth 'N' Ashes. Thankfully, I did not then put pen to paper; as can often happen, time proved my internal critic corrupt. In keeping with the seemingly simple title, taken from the biblical passage, "Set not your mind on high things but condescend to men of low estate, and be not wise in your own conceits," Low Estate is the testament of a humble man whose relationship with his god has shifted from abject fear to dubious gratitude. "My narrow mind/ Wicked, wicked/ From the mouth I spout/ O Lord don' let these thoughts come out," wails the grandson of a Nazarene preacher suckled on brimstone. Accordion, bandoneon, hurdy-gurdy, and banjo lurch alongside David Eugene Edward, keeping him company on a long road of spiritual contemplation strewn with prosaic idioms like "mobile home" and "ass clockin'," as well as biblical mainstays like the lamb and the sword. As darkly appealing as Edward's vision of mortal bankruptcy has been, I can't help but wonder what new face he has come to know over the last few years. Sixteen Horsepower performs on Sunday, Dec. 5, at the Great American Music Hall with Vue opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.

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Silke Tudor


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