Our weekly picks

Pub date December 8, 2009



Keith Hennessy: Saliva: The Making of and Saliva

Saliva is probably Keith Hennessy’s best known and least seen work of the last 20 years. When it premiered on a cold December night in 1988 under a San Francisco freeway overpass — and when it was performed again in March 1989 — it had not been advertised, word got around in the underground arts community. Saliva was a ritualistic solo in which Hennessy forcefully, poetically, and hopefully spoke for his own manhood and for a community caught in the anguish of AIDS. To use spit — an "uncouth" bodily fluid — as healing balm was a revolutionary act in both humanistic and theatrical terms. It may be difficult in 2009 to recreate the sense of pain, helplessness, and fury that generated the work. But isn’t that what memorials are for? Lest we forget, these events are the opening act of a celebration of Hennessy’s work and contribution to the Bay Area that continues in January. (Rita Felciano)

Saliva: The Making of discussion and screening: 7:30 p.m., free


1310 Mission, SF

Saliva performance: Sun/13, 8 p.m.; $15–$25 (no one turned away)

check www.circozero.org for location, SF





Don’t expect fairy folk and mythical critters to prance through the new Espers album, III (Drag City) — regardless of song titles like "Trollslända." That’s Swedish for dragonfly, band member Meg Baird assures me. Despite appearances and a name that evokes paranormal-minded cultists, it’s clear the group of mostly Philadelphians is more earthy and no-nonsense, as Baird reels off the various scratch song names and ideas Espers toyed with as they were making III — a witchy, intoxicating blend of psychedelia, prog, and English folk revival. For Baird’s interview, see this week’s Noise blog. (Kimberly Chun)

With Wooden Shjips and Colossal Yes

8 p.m., $13–$15

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421



Historic Libations

San Franciscans have long enjoyed a romance with alcohol — from the debauchery of the Barbary Coast era to the modern renaissance of the artisan cocktail, the City by the Bay knows how to knock ’em back. You can celebrate this high-proof history at Historic Libations, a party inspired by Cocktail Boothby‘s American Bartender (Anchor Distilling, 152 pages, $14.95), an expanded reprint of a classic 1891 book by one of the city’s earliest and most influential mixologists. Revelers can sample a variety of uniquely San Francisco cocktails, including the pisco sour and the Martinez. At the end of the festivities, they’ll be given their own copy of the book to take home and consult to perfect historic and potent concoctions. (Sean McCourt)

6 p.m., $40–$50

California Historical Society

678 Mission, SF.

(415) 357-1848, ext. 229



SF Mime Troupe 50th Anniversary Exhibition Birthday Bash

Even if 50 is the new 40, it’s rare for many 50-year-olds to be as robust as the SF Mime Troupe. Challenging entrenched racism, endemic poverty, and politics-as-usual regionally and nationally since 1959, the Mime Troupe has earned theatre’s greatest awards — three Obies, a Tony, and an obscenity trial. Celebrate a half-century of provocative street performance — and toast the next 50 with one of San Francisco’s most venerable, anti-institutional institutions— at this birthday party, which includes a special staging of its 1981 Christmas Carol remix Ghosts, an ode to those displaced by the building of the nearby Moscone Center. Stop back on Saturday for a four-hour interactive workshop with Mime Troupe collective members Ed Holmes and Keiko Shimosanto in which participants will be called upon to create their own "anticonsumption" pageant and parade it through downtown SF. (Nicole Gluckstern)

Performance: 7:30 p.m., free

Workshop: Sat/12, 12:30 p.m., $15

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787





Artists’ Television Access 25th Anniversary

The year 1984 contained delights and horrors, some more Orwellian than others: Ronald Reagan, Apple computers, Cabbage Patch Kids, Mary Lou Retton, Gremlins, Dynasty, New York’s "subway vigilante," American punk rock, etc. Amid that churning, neon-wearing, Cold War-tensed milieu, Artists’ Television Access was formed, and the activism-through-art hub has been keeping tabs on news and culture ever since. Toast 25 years of independent, radical, community-oriented programming at ATA’s Valencia Street gallery, the site of both a decades-spanning screening of works by staff and associates (Lise Swenson, Craig Baldwin, Rigo 23, Konrad Steiner) and a day-long musical get-down (with Ash Reiter, Eats Tapes, a raffle, and much more). (Cheryl Eddy)

"ATA 25: Quarter Century of Alternative Work": 7:30 p.m., free

"Underground — Experimental — Unstoppable": Sun/13, 11 a.m.–10 p.m., $10

Artists’ Television Access

992 Valencia, SF

(415) 824-3890




Hell yeah, y’all: New Orleans’ legendary Eyehategod is coming to town, seeping into your eardrums on a slow-moving sludge tide of doom, noise, reefer smoke, and fuck-the-system politics. Singer Mike Williams famously overcame his heroin addiction during a post-Katrina jail stint, and the band — semi-dispersed since the early aughts, with most members engaged in other projects (Down, Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, Soilent Green, etc.) — is at last back on the road. Everyone who’s been fiending since 1993’s Take as Needed for Pain (Century Media) can finally feast on what Decibel magazine called "a series of buzzing, lurching dirges steeped in feedback and contempt." (Eddy)

With Stormcrow, Brainoil, Acephalix

8 p.m., $20

DNA Lounge

375 11th St, SF

(415) 626-1409



Mark Morris Dance Company: The Hard Nut

If you have never seen The Hard Nut, Mark Morris’ extraordinarily musical and equally touching and hilarious version of the holiday classic, go now. The times are a-changing in Berkeley as well, and it may be quite some time until this glittering jewel comes back. The company is not scheduled to perform it here again in the near future. Morris set the piece in a cartoon version of the ’60s, removed some of the sugar but not much of the sweetness, kept the family spirit (though somewhat reinterpreted) alive, and heard things in the music as only he can. You will never see a dance of the Snowflakes — brilliant — like that and the grand pas de deux becomes a glorious grand pas de tutti. The score — Morris used every single note — will be performed live by the Berkeley Symphony conducted by Robert Cole. (Rita Felciano)

7 p.m., (through Dec. 20), $36–$62

Zellerbach Hall

UC Berkeley Campus, Berk.

(510) 642-9988




Tetris Tournament

Hey Tetris Master, here’s your chance to finally go out on Saturday night, do something semi-social at an art gallery, and win a prize — all while playing your favorite game of Tuck-Every-Tile-Rack-In-Snugly. But don’t get carried away: although you’ll have a chance to impress everyone with your phenomenal organizational skills, you won’t be taking anyone home. One other thing: you’re not going to have those cute little Tetris ditties to keep you in rhythm. Instead, there will be live bands (Microfiche, White Cloud, and Middle D). They might remind of those well-worn synth loops, but they’re more dynamic, more human. This is the night you’ve been waiting for; don’t let that sheep baaaaaah. (Spencer Young)

8 p.m., $5–$15 (free with membership)

The Lab

2948 16th St., SF

(415) 864 8855



San Francisco Silent Film Festival Winter Event

Perfectly timed as an antidote for all the year-end noise at first-run theaters, the SF Silent Film Festival Winter Event dips into cinema history, unspooling films made long before Peter Jackson got his mitts on CG technology or Guy Ritchie decided Sherlock Holmes should learn kung fu. The four selections include a 1927 Thailand-shot adventure from the future minds behind the original King Kong (1933), Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness; a U.S. premiere (90 years after the fact!) in Abel Gance’s 1919 World War I epic J’accuse; the Tod Browning-Lon Chaney collabo West of Zanzibar (1928); and a pair for Buster Keaton fans: the 1921 short The Goat, and delightful 1924 featurette Sherlock Jr. (Eddy)

11:30 a.m., $14–$17 per film (all-day pass, $52)

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

1 (800) 838-3006



Bazaar Bizarre

Handmade letterpress stationery, Scottish shortbread, dolls dressed up in home-knitted pinafores, wind chimes made from rusted dining utensils — love those old fairs and festivals. This local incarnation of the nationwide Bazaar Bizarre includes a one-woman metal studio, ceramic wares, boutique cupcakes, children’s clothes, hand-bound books, silk-screened apparel — and birds as finger jewelry. There will also be music by Slide and Spin Studios, crafty workshops, and giveaways. Get ready to overdose on cuteness and creativity. (Jana Hsu)

Noon–-6 p.m. (also Sun/13, noon–6 p.m.), $2 (children free)

San Francisco County Fair Building

Golden Gate Park

Ninth Ave and Lincoln, SF

(415) 831-5500




Jenny Scheinman

As any music aficionado knows, describing an act that avoids prescribed categories can result in verbal apoplexy of a most unfortunate kind. How then to best convey the many talents of one Humboldt County-born Jenny Scheinman, whose collaborative projects and studio sessions have ranged over the years from avant-garde jazz to moody blues, and whose formidably-wielded violin is the perfect foil for her straight-shooting, honky-tonk-inflected voice? From John Zorn’s Tzadik label to Lucinda Williams’ recording sessions, Sheinman’s been making a widening splash since leaving the Bay Area in 1999. Skillfully combining a wiser-than-her-years strain of down-home melancholia with sturdy yet evocative multilayered orchestral composition, her appeal lies not in a narrowness of focus, but an expansive, expressive musical palette. She’s showcasing her range in three separate sets — an instrumental duet with pianist Myra Melford, a vocal set with guitarist Robby Giersoe, and a final act with singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn. (Nicole Gluckstern)

8 p.m., $18.50–$19.50

Freight and Salvage

2020 Addison, Berkeley

(510) 644-2020





Kid Cudi

More Urban Outfitters than the rooftops of Brooklyn, Kid Cudi has successfully capitalized off of Kanye West’s hipster niche. For the MTV crowd in search of someone less embarrassing than West, Kid Cudi is their go-to neon hoodie. He makes intergalactic pop-hop mixed with lazy lyrics like "The lonely stoner needs to free his mind at night" and "I’ve got some issues that nobody can see<0x2009>/And all of these emotions are pouring out of me." A poet he ain’t. It’s more spectacle than speculation. The songs "Heart of Lion" and "Up Up & Away" are infectious with youthful ambition, and we’re reminded this is a kid from Cleveland who now wears his Air Yeezys on the streets of Brooklyn. Is this the future of hip-hop? I don’t know. I just came here to get high and dance in my skinny jeans. (Lorian Long)

8 p.m., $29.75–$33.00

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF



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