The life of a political cartoonist is often one of turmoil and mixed emotion. The more brazen and unrestricted the ruling parties become, the less difficult it becomes to sort out which new outrages are in need of lambasting each week. As America spirals toward a fast-approaching nadir of tyranny and evil, the humble cartoonist seems less a mere diversion, more an essential dissident. Yet, despite the seeming moral dilemma of earning a good living from bad times, the humorous vignettes of Tom Tomorrow, David Rees, Ted Rall, and the Village Voice‘s Ward Sutton bring sanity to the otherwise distressing ritual of reading the newspaper. We East Bay folk are spoiled when it comes to readily available leftwing media outlets, and thus we’ve probably all seen the work of the delightful doodler Sutton at some time or another. His familiar style presents a top-lip-heavy Dubya, replete with massive ears and jagged eyebrows. Each new edition of Sutton Impact, his weekly strip, gets straight to the heart of the day’s issues, lampooning the hypocrisy, ignorance, and egoism of the right’s daily deeds. “In these grim horrific times, the satiric hilarity of Sutton Impact will cheer you up slightly,” reads a laudatory cover blurb by Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
This Saturday, Sutton’s cause for rejoicing is the launch of his first book of political cartoons. Sutton Impact: The Political Cartoons of Ward Sutton hits bookshelves on Thursday, thanks to a publishing deal with Seven Stories Press. To celebrate, he is traipsing all over America signing copies and shaking hands. East Bay residents can catch him Saturday at the AK Press Warehouse in Oakland (674-A 23rd St.). The free event begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. For more info, visit AKPress.org — Alex Handy
Get lyrical in the library with songwriter, essayist, and poet Toby Bielawski, who leads off an open mic in the Edith Stone Room at Albany Library accompanied by refreshments to wet the pipes and whet the muse (Thu., 7 p.m.). … Mr. and Mrs. Sherlock Holmes grapple with repressed memories involving the 1906 San Francisco quake in Laurie R. King‘s latest mystery, Locked Rooms. It’s elementary at Cody’s Telegraph (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). … Hand-built from a kit, David Case‘s 29-foot bark Quark weathered squalls and so much worse on its 2,700-mile voyage over open ocean. Seabiscuit Case tells true fish tales about faraway people and places as he reads from Sailin’ South at Spellbinding Tales (Sat., 7 p.m.). … Fighting mad at males? Got a beef with guys? From her extensive archives, Secret History of the Witches author Max Dashu presents a workshop at Change Makers about the horrors of patriarchies ($10-$20 sliding scale) (Sat., 7:30 p.m.). … Assorted beats rock Crockett when the Valona Deli (1323 Pomona St.) presents its Second Sunday Poetry Series, with an open mic and the Terry Henry jazz trio (Sun., 4 p.m.). … The second Monday of every month is Pride Day at the Oakland Public Library’s Piedmont Avenue branch, where the LGBT book club reads and discusses hot books that aren’t about being straight. This month it’s Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina (Mon., 6:30 p.m.). … View the effects of caffeine on unrhymed couplets at The Beanery (2925 College Ave., Berkeley), where the Whole Note Poetry Series presents Nicole Henares, followed by an open mic (signups begin at 6:45) (Tue., 7 p.m.). … Are federal grand juries out to get social-justice movements? “The Master’s Tools: How the Government Manipulates the Legal System to Suppress Dissent” is a workshop at Oakland’s AK Press warehouse (674-A 23rd St.); featured speakers include Katya Komisaruk, author of Beat the Heat: How to Handle Encounters with Law Enforcement (Tue., 7 p.m.). — Anneli Rufus
Never mind that pianist Johnny Gonzales and drummer Fernando Sanjinés 13 Arellano are just now touring behind their 1976 album, Jazz 400 Meters High. They’re here, they’re Bolivian, and Gonzales’ monolithic Cecil Taylor-Les McCann block chords fit in nicely with the folkloric Andean feel of the newly remastered CD — especially when Eduardo “Kuki” Ortiz’ quena native flute playing is factored in. As the CD’s liner notes suggest, the Miami-based Gonzales really is one the pillars of Bolivian jazz, so when he and Sanjinés 13 (who now lives in San Francisco) stroll into La Peña (3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) at 8 p.m. Friday evening, they’ll be representing not only Bolivia but the whole spirit of what it means to be one of the only jazz cats in the entire country — which is what Gonzales was when he started his nightclub, La Cueva del Jazz, in La Paz in the ’60s. $13 door. — Kelly Vance
Urban Funk at Deep Roots
Burners. Bombs. Throw-ups. Tags. Canvases. Funk. The graffiti art scene can be relied upon for the freshest, most “wildstyle” abstractions of urban expression. If you want to see ultracontemporary takes on pop culture in a visual medium, calligraphic kaleidoscopes, and aerosol landscapes, forget about MoMA or any snobby-ass above-ground gallery; the underground is where it’s at. Arik and Daz One will be among the featured artists at Urban Funk Revolution: The Final Chapter, the concluding installment of Higher Gliffs’ all-youth graffiti exhibit series. The show also features recent works by students from the Urban Arts Academy at Berkeley High, as well as music performances by Nac One, DJ Gigs, Orukusakai, and Sun Ru Skywaka. In addition, the event will also feature a silent art auction and is a CD release party for the Gigs-produced Ground Effect Vol. 2. It all goes down Thursday at the Deep Roots Urban Teahouse at 1418 34th Ave. in West Oakland. For more info, call 510-625-9940 or e-mail [email protected] — Eric K. Arnold