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This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

Wednesday, April 2, 2003
The make-believe premise of the group exhibition "The Pretendlings" is understandable at this critical juncture in history -- who wouldn't want to hide out in a parallel universe right now? Exploring their alter egos in installations, videos, and performances, the five featured artists get to live out the universal desire to be someone else for a day. Martine Corompt, for example, takes on the guise of teen pop queen Leanne in her sculptural and video work This Is My World, but her doppelgänger is no Britney Spears: Leanne's a gangly adolescent who's more riot grrl than boy toy. Tamara Fites' (untitled) double is a real bitch, a Mae West—style vixen called Madame Breeder who pimps out half-canine, half-human creatures from her "doggie bordello," a one-bedroom apartment Fites constructed within the gallery. Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson enjoys more than one invented identity -- her installation, New Population, introduces an entire community of digitally created alienlike creatures. "The Pretendlings" opens today (and runs through May 3) at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-5416 or visit

Thursday, April 3, 2003
Kids these days: All they ever think about is improving their vocabulary, mastering breath control, and listening to that noisy music. They hardly ever have time for good old-fashioned American activities like cutting school, watching dumb-ass TV, or playing mailbox baseball. Next thing you know, they'll be taking over our nightclubs for wholesome, positive events that pair them with successful, hard-working artists. Witness beloved "post-gangsta" hip-hoppers Blackalicious, proud fathers of 2002's great Blazing Arrow, lending their star power to the "Bring the Noise Hip Hop Benefit" for Youth Speaks. This nonprofit for writers and spoken-word artists gets a lot of respect for its good work, notably the annual Teen Poetry Slam, which took place last month. Tonight's show also includes Zion I, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Dennis Kim, Melinda Corazon Foley, and the 2003 Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam Champions; it starts at 9 at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), S.F. Admission is $25-30; call 474-0365 or visit

Friday, April 4, 2003
Not everyone has the authority to lay claim to the heritage of John Coltrane, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Lester Young. (Sure, we all want to, but only our shower walls know to what degree we succeed.) Still, a special few of our contemporaries have worked hard enough and were born gifted enough to publicly pay tribute to this caliber of performer. The prolific duo of Idris Ackamoor and Rhodessa Jones presents They Speak Through Us, using dance, spoken word, and live music, featuring saxophonist Chico Freeman. The bill also includes The OG and the B-Boy, a look at the generation gap in the African-American community, written by and starring Ackamoor and spoken-word artist Kamau Bakari, aka MC Pitch Black. The show, presented by Cultural Odyssey, opens tonight at 8 and continues through April 12 at the Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton (at Webster), S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 292-1850 or visit

Saturday, April 5, 2003
Kirstin E. Williams' all-woman dance troupe Strong Current aims to mess with traditional stereotypes, and it seems to be doing a fine job of it. "We feel empowered and want to share that empowerment," the company trumpets on its Web site, and everyone knows a stereotypical woman wouldn't say that. "UnderGround -- Behind the Faces" is a group of pieces that Williams says "push[es] the strength of women. We do a lot of partnering, lifting each other. I have all shapes and sizes of women, and a lot of times the smaller dancer will be lifting the larger dancer." She explains that to emphasize her performers' power, she makes the dancers' movements very athletic: "You know how there are men's push-ups and women's push-ups? Well, I wanted us to be able to do all the men's push-ups. And we can." The last piece in the collection, War, focuses on children caught amid the injustices of conflict -- like, say, an unprovoked bombing of their hometown. "UnderGround" plays at 8 tonight (also April 11-13) at Dance Mission Theater, 3166 24th St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $14-16; call 273-4633 or visit

Sunday, April 6, 2003
Local anti-war demonstrations have revealed that peace protests can take countless forms: Activists have vomited, knitted, marched, kissed, and biked against Dubya's campaign. The Porn Clown Posse has been surprisingly sedate thus far, despite its slogan of "Make Smut Not War," but that won't last. The group is planning a march on Washington at the end of this month, at which the Clowns are sure to be up to their usual X-rated hijinks. But first, the jesters need to make money to cover their travel expenses. Photographer Glenn Campbell's erotic and fine arts photos of the raunchy troupe, uh, clowning around will go on sale at the one-day exhibit "KlownErotika," with proceeds going toward financing the PCP's trip to NYC (to participate in a Laughing Squid—sponsored performance at CBGB's) and to our nation's capital, where the perverted yuksters will demand "more porn and less Bush." According to the group's Web site, "refreshments and beatings" will be served at today's shindig, which takes place from 3 to 8 p.m. at Aloft, 25A Mclea Court (at Ninth Street), S.F. Admission is free; call (510) 967-9343 or visit

Monday, April 7, 2003
In a lot of places in the world, people don't think it's odd for men to dress up in women's clothes. They think it's exciting and funny and sexy and dangerous. Why we here in the United States act like every transvestite is the first guy to come up with the idea is anyone's guess. Maybe it's because we're an immature country. Just a baby! There's so much we don't know. Take dancer Didik Nini Thowok, for example. He's busy keeping alive Indonesia's age-old tradition of cross-gender performing arts, borrowing from the customs of Java, Bali, the Sudan, China, Japan, and India. This visit is Thowok's first to the Bay Area, so let's dress up as adults and pretend to be broad-minded and worldly, so he'll feel at home. See him tonight and Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Theatre of Yugen at Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 621-7978 or visit

Tuesday, April 8, 2003
The MacArthur Foundation defines creativity as "the expression of human endeavor as individuals actively make or find something new, or connect the seemingly unconnected in significant ways." The foundation is best known for its Fellows Program -- the so-called "genius" grant (though the organization feels the term is too limiting) -- a no-strings-attached $500,000 gift, to be used however the recipient sees fit. It can't be applied for: You just get a phone call one day if you're super, super cool. San Francisco Art Institute grad and former Capp Street Project artist Liza Lou got the call last year. Lou's masterwork is a life-size replica of an American kitchen in which every surface, even the dust balls under the refrigerator, is covered in swirling, glittering, beautiful beadwork. The result is a breathtakingly significant connection of the seemingly unconnected. Lou presents slides and video work in a talk at 7 p.m. at the CCAC Wattis Institute, Timken Lecture Hall, 1111 Eighth St. (near 16th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 551-9210 or visit


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