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Asking the Tough Questions

WED 7/16

Democracy thrives on large quantities of education and discussion, yet citizens of this fair burg don't get enough of either. Though we can't believe everything we read, many of us rely on nothing but newspapers and mailers for information about candidates' campaigns. So when someone (in this case the Reform Democrats group) holds a Mayoral Candidate Forum, it's a rare chance for us to interact face-to-face with the pols. Catch the four major players starting at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the Taraval Police Station, 2345 24th Ave., S.F. Admission is free; call 835-7706.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Bookworm's Delight
Tomes by the score in S.F.

SAT 7/19

With discount bookstore chains proliferating faster than zits on a pubescent back, independent booksellers have taken a hit to the gut. So how do indie shops compete? By trading on customers' desire to hand money to a local joint with friendly, personalized service and community connections.

The like-minded can deliver a sucker punch to the chains by blowing their book budget at the annual Books by the Bay fair. Thousands of volumes from 45 stores will be displayed for browsing bibliophiles, with author signings, readings, and panel discussions to boot. Highly anticipated this year: the "Food Lovers Paradise" confab, with Bay Area celebs like San Francisco Food Lovers' Guide author and Hayes Street Grill doyenne Patricia Unterman and national foodies like Grilling and Barbecuing author Denis Kelly discussing S.F.'s best eateries. Yerba Buena Gardens hosts the free festival, at 701 Mission (at Third Street), beginning at 10 a.m. Call 978-2787 or visit
-- Joyce Slaton

A Cowboy's Life

SAT-SUN 7/19-20

Picture a cowboy. Now study the image that your mind's eye has created. If you're like most, the portrait defaults to an image of a rugged white guy like John Wayne or the Marlboro Man. Truth is, our herding heroes were a much more colorful bunch. Popular culture has mistakenly bleached out the strong presence of the black cowboy as a vital part in the making of the Wild West. Celebrate an unusual piece of black heritage with the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, which rides into the Bay Area this weekend. This year marks the rodeo's 20th, and features events such as calf ropin', bull ridin', and bull doggin' -- a move cowboy legend Bill Pickett created in 1931. Scream "Yee haa!" at 2:30 p.m. at the Rowell Ranch Arena, 9711 Dublin Canyon, Hayward. Admission is $10-25; call (510) 549-2747 or visit
-- Sunny Andersen


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