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Wednesday, Dec 3 1997
december 3
Hazmat Alert Nine artists examine how we continue to suffer from technology we originally created to help ourselves in the group show "Biohazard." Results include Stomach Acid Dream, painter Mia Brownell's series on synthetic food production and consumption created with symbolic and pop art imagery. Audible Mello Dronics Studio founder Cari Campbell, meanwhile, meditates on the way we sully our own air in a repetitive five-minute audio piece featuring the sounds of one person breathing interrupted by short blasts from aerosol spray cans. The show opens with a reception at 5 p.m. (and is up through Jan. 25) in the Walter/McBean Gallery of the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut (at Jones), S.F. Admission is free; call 749-4588. The artists elaborate on their creations at a free gallery talk Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the SFAI.

december 4
Hep Cats, Kids, and Corner Stores What distinguishes the city depends on which photographer you ask at the three-artist photo exhibit "The San Francisco Show," but Paula Chamlee is headed the right direction with her series on neighborhood corner stores, taken from her new book Twenty Corner Markets and One in the Middle of the Block. By showing people coming and going at small, family-owned businesses, Chamlee tacitly honors neighborhoods that haven't been completely homogenized by chains and strip malls. Her photos hang with Ken Miller's portraits of Tenderloin kids, unveiled last spring at his multimedia collaborative project with Pearl Ubungen, "Take Me to the Tenderloin, Now!" Jerry Stoll offers a more typical picture of San Francisco with his photos of North Beach's jazz and poetry beat scene in the '50s and '60s. The show opens with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (and is up through Jan. 3) at the Scott Nichols Gallery, 49 Geary (at Market), Fourth Floor, S.F. Admission is free; call 788-4641.

Must This See You Theater troupe Common Cultural Practice dispenses with linear narrative in "New Word Order," a collection of short works by playwrights who thought word order was overrated. Gertrude Stein's I Like It to Be a Play evokes a vacation in Mallorca through a series of fragmented memories, while Michael McDonagh's Touch and Go uses meditative repetition a la Philip Glass to convey the obsessiveness of new love. Comic absurdity reigns in a conversation between two strangers in Kier Peters' A Dog Tries to Kiss the Sky, and five performers recount an ordinary event through five different narrative devices in French humorist Raymond Queneau's Exercises in Style. Leslie Scalapino's Deer Night completes the program, which opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Dec. 20) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 563-8369.

Finley's Open Fire After a career of confronting the narrow script to which women are often confined, performance artist Karen Finley takes a detour into the psychological profiles of Winnie the Pooh characters lost in an S/M bar. Devotees of Finley's art have come to expect that the journey won't be a direct one, and this new collection of monologues, The American Chestnut, is no different. Finley, who's come a long way from the days of opening for punk bands like the Dead Kennedys, threads together an Our Town-style narrative in this piece about small-town domesticity, illustrated with dollhouse diorama video projections and still-life slide images projected on her own body. Nicky, a woman young enough to still be concerned about her body image, and Lily, a woman old enough to be over it, are the principal characters Finley assumes to make her observations. This isn't the performance artist's first stab at the housewifely arts; her book Living It Up: Humorous Adventures in Hyperdomesticity parodied Martha Stewart's writings, apparently with enough severity that Crown Books, which had originally agreed to publish Living It Up, balked, for fear of offending Stewart, another one of its clients. The American Chestnut opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Dec. 14) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $12.50-20; call 621-7797.

december 5
Making Spirits Bright Jesus and Santa Claus break into a cuss-laced kung fu showdown in The Spirit of Christmas; I Never Ho'd for My Father demonstrates how things might have been different if Santa had been raised in a Mafia neighborhood; in Yes Timmy, There Is a Santa Claus, a sour St. Nick gives mean gifts to a disfigured child. Spike and Mike, known for their annual animation compilation, must have been thinking about that Santa/Satan thing when they put together their "Sick & Twisted Christmas Cartoon Spectacular," a collection of anti-holiday holiday films that leans heavily on the naughty, and not at all on the nice. The animated works screen at 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and midnight tonight (and continue through Dec. 13) at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F. Admission is $6.50; call 621-6120. (The films move on to other Bay Area theaters after the Castro engagement.)

december 6
Marquee Mark Finally, a Christmas gift for that friend who keeps raving about Kama Sutra: Get him the film's promo poster at the UC Theater's Huge Annual Poster Sale, and tell him to shut up already. The repertory movie house will be selling loads of posters and memorabilia from good movies, too, from Fargo to Flamenco to Pink Flamingos. Film buffs and bargain hunters can expect to find lobby cards, those little two-sided color stills from the '40s, along with postcards and buttons and other ephemera related to classic, foreign, cult, and independent films. This year's sale will also feature tables specializing in Hong Kong movie items, including posters, T-shirts, and subtitled videos. Rare posters will be sold through a silent auction at the event, which begins at 9 a.m. at the UC Theater, 2036 University (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 843-0847.

Big Time There are plenty of nail-biting attractions at alternative circus show Big Top 23, but the "traditional carny food and drink" really sets off the alarm bells. More than the appearance of a real live buffalo, more than daredevil bicycle troupe Cyclecide, more than the robots of destruction built by Seemen, and the "unusual" magic of Chicken John, carny refreshments sound like trouble. From all indications, we're talking about stale tortilla chips swimming in gummy Velveeta, washed down with swigs from a hip flask of JD (never mind the Sno-Kone/cotton candy/green bud trinity). The event's first half, which also includes games, sideshow attractions, and performers from Defenestration and the San Francisco School for Circus Arts, is for children and parents who realize that this circus probably won't damage tender kiddie psyches any more than Ringling Brothers. The nighttime portion gives way to fire-eating and flesh-baring, with a multimedia presentation by Oakland industrial band Valley Fever and performances by bands Ubzub, Chika Chika, and the Centimeters. The daytime circus begins at 2 p.m.; the nighttime circus begins at 8:30 p.m. at Marin & Illinois, S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 647-BIGX.

december 7
A Little Off the Side Retired hairdresser Mark Klatte ("a very hunky guy with lots of tattoos," according to a source at Artists' Television Access) goes back to work for a day at the ATA benefit "Eat Ourselves Rich," where he'll be giving free haircuts. This daylong open house promises more than just new dos, though: During the first half, held from 3 to 6 p.m., guests can sample beer donated by Black Label and sweet stuff from Just Desserts as they have their tarot cards read. DJ Jamez will be spinning old soul and ATA students will offer digital and multimedia demos and experimental films and videos broadcast on monitors throughout the space. Drag king Cooper Bombadier does Hank Williams and Puerto Rican medium Sister Lopez channels Elvis during the second half, held from 6 to 9 p.m. South Asian multimedia performance group Chaat and queer Latino performance group Latin Hustle take their turns on the stage, and the Helen Lundy Trio provides new wave lounge music as the Film Arts Foundation unspools projections. Lucky raffle winners get gift certificates from Good Vibrations, Aquarius Records, Rainbow, and Gauntlet. The event begins at 3 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $5-500; call 824-3890.

Crowning Glory The Faux Queen Pageant is for every woman who's ever lip-synced to Donna Summer or debated M*A*C versus Shiseido with boys who know. This exercise in gender-fluidity (designed "for drag queens trapped in real women's bodies") features women dressed as men dressed as women competing for a drag queen crown in a benefit for Breast Cancer Action and the Women's Cancer Resource Center. In the quest for this hotly contested title, entrants have been known to add faux beard lines and anatomically correct male-type padding in an attempt to outqueen the actual queens. Winners are chosen on the basis of drag, talent, and personality, and audience members can tip the scales by tipping the contestants they favor, which seems a lot more honest than whatever criteria they use to pick Miss America. Municipal Court Judge Kay Tsenin, COYOTE founder Margo St. James, and Connie Champagne are among the celebrity judges at the contest, which is hosted by Ruby Toosday and concludes with dancing to tunes spun by DJs Deena Davenport and Downtown Donna. The show begins at 10:30 p.m. at the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St. (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is $5-25; call 331-1500, ext. DIET.

december 8
Bali Nigh Break from the epic power struggles at work for the epic power struggles of Hindu mythology when ShadowLight Productions offers its traditional Balinese shadow puppet play Wayang Bali, which mixes slapstick comedy with high drama in ages-old but strangely familiar ways. Gods and demons duke it out with magical weapons, accompanied by live gamelan music -- for psychic relief, imagine each puppet as a co-worker. Wayang Bali, which won puppetry's highest award, the UNIMA-USA Citation for Excellence, begins at 11:45 a.m. at Levi Strauss and Co., Ice House 2, Room 102, 151 Union (at Sansome), S.F. Admission is free; call 648-4461.

december 9
Pablo's Pueblo This is the story of three men who transformed their world with scissors, words, and photo paper. Cubist painter Pablo Picasso journeyed further into the perspective dimension when he collaborated with photographer Andre Villers and poet Jacques Prevert on Diurnes (Daily Entries), a collection of images and text providing an otherworldly illustration of the political and cultural climate of early '60s France. In 1962, after Villers had culled hundreds of negatives from landscape photos and Picasso had created as many small cutout figures, the pair holed themselves up in a darkroom in Southern France for 15 days making photograms, a technique in which objects are placed on photographic paper and exposed to light. In this case, what emerged were landscape scenes overlaid with Picasso's silhouettes of animals and mythological figures and Prevert's narrative, surreally juxtaposing elements of ancient and modern life. Villers kept a daily record of his own on the collaborative process with his shots of Picasso working in his studio. The exhibit "Picasso & Villers: The Diurnes Portfolio," which includes 30 of these photolithographs, opens at 11 a.m. at the Ansel Adams Center for Photography, 250 Fourth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 495-7000.

Get Ready, Get Set Rock shows are supposed to build momentum throughout the evening, but every once in a while, the energy ebbs in a slow hypnotic swirl. Expect it at a triple bill beginning with local acts Snowmen (featuring Cole Marquis of 28th Day) and Cars Get Crushed, and concluding with the American Analog Set of Texas. Lingering psychedelia links all three, but in the case of the first two, it's the brighter, harder-edged variety. The American Analog Set are more dreamy than druggy, heavy on Farfisa organ and bed-head atmospherics. Songs like "Too Tired to Shine" are more like lullabies than anthems, but when you're not rocking out, it's nice to actually hear lyrics, isn't it? Snowmen open the show at 9:30 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Texas), S.F. Admission is $6; call 621-4455.

About The Author

Heather Wisner


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