This Week’s Day-by-Day Picks

WED 14

Besides being Woody Guthrie’s birthday, today is Bastille Day, the day when fans of liberty, equality, and brotherhood — not to mention people who like Mathieu Kassovitz, Ludivine Sagnier, MC Solaar, and wine from the Côtes du Rhône — let their Francophile flag fly. La Peña Cultural Center’s International Working-Class Film & Video Festival knows how to celebrate the 215th anniversary of the French Revolution: they’re screening filmmaker Paul Carpita’s Rendezvous on the Docks (Le rendez-vous des quais) this evening at 7. The 1953-55 production dramatizes how organized dockworkers in France, opposed to that country’s war in Vietnam (they had one, too), were the subject of government union-busting. The film was also reportedly confiscated by the French police in the ’50s as a “threat to public order.” Shades of the PATRIOT Act, n’est-ce pas? Protest songs by live performers, too. 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. LaborFest.netKelly Vance

THU 15

Like the life cycle of the butterfly, the training of a geisha goes in three phases. Young girls begin their training as tamago (“egg”), observing their elders. At seventeen, they become maiko (geisha-in-training), taking lessons in dancing, playing the shamisen (a three-stringed instrument), and other arts. Around age twenty, the maiko goes through the erikae (“turning the collar”) ceremony, tones down her face and dress, and becomes a geisha. Learn more about this ancient — and often misunderstood — culture during Geisha: Beyond the Painted Smile, a lecture and slide show in the Garden Room of the Orinda Library, presented by a docent from the Asian Art Museum in conjunction with its current art exhibit of the same name. 7 p.m., 24 Orinda Way. 925-254-2184. — Stefanie Kalem

FRI 16

An underground pinball joint. In Alameda. In fact, an art show of new collages on canvas, hung on the walls of an underground pinball joint in Alameda. The name of the place is Lucky Ju Ju. That sounds about right. The exhibition is called Tilt! — artist John Sheridan’s metaphorical pinball-themed commentary on the current state of American popular culture, replete with decals, stickers, cutouts, cartoons, comix, logos, and assorted disposable imagery. Declares Sheridan: “Art is a fun and a very serious game. I’d like my work, like a pinball game, to show the forces of society colliding when ideas are ‘shot’ at them.” Tilt! opens this afternoon with a free reception from 5 p.m. to midnight, then runs through August 21. Lucky Ju Ju is located at 713-E Santa Clara Ave. in Alameda. It’s open Fridays and Saturdays only, 6 p.m. to midnight. — Kelly Vance

SAT 17

The best way to raise awareness about using native plants is by, well, using them. That’s what Friends of the Arroyos, the students of Granada High School, Boy Scout Troop 919, and other Livermore residents did when putting together Granada Native Gardens, a park which celebrates its grand opening from 4 to 7 p.m. today. Bring a potluck dish to share, listen to live bluegrass music, and take a tour of the garden’s native chaparral, oak woodland, and meadow. You’ll also find three permanent educational displays and picnic tables and benches created from recycled concrete and featuring custom mosaic art by garden designer Alrie Middlebrook, depicting local native species of bird, fish, and frog. The gardens are located on Murrieta Blvd., one block south of Stanley Blvd. in Livermore. — Stefanie Kalem

SUN 18

Ships and disaster make great musical-theater bedfellows. Need proof? The Tony Award-winning Titanic has been touring the United States for years. Closer to home, Port Chicago — an hour-long, musical dramatization of the worst home-front disaster of WWII — plays at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, 659 14th St., performed by the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra. In case you didn’t know, on the night of July 17, 1944, ships and rail cars loaded with munitions went up in an explosion so large it was felt in Nevada. More than three hundred workers died on-site, one-third of whom were African American. The accident inspired the fight for safer and more racially equal working conditions. The sixtieth-anniversary celebration takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. and also includes a talk by Dr. Robert Allen, author of The Port Chicago Mutiny. 510-637-0200. — Stefanie Kalem

MON 19

Ever listened to, say, a South African choir sing six-part harmony and longed to join in? Now you can. The Polyrhythm Choir Workshop, led by composer, producer, and educator Tony Elman using techniques adapted from the work of Reinhard Flatischler, aims to build a “stepping, clapping, and singing” choral group — the SF Bay Area Polyrhythm Choir — from scratch. He’s holding a series of tryouts/workshops Monday evenings (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.) at the College Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5951 College Ave. in Oakland, and you’re invited. Please bring sneakers or soft-soled shoes. For further info, e-mail him at [email protected]Kelly Vance

TUE 20

There are no mundane seductions in the writing of Jonathan Ames. “She had praised my mustache,” he writes in his new novel, Wake Up, Sir! “Her eyes were humid; they beseeched me. The pupils were so dilated there was just a rim of brown. She was insane. Possibly on drugs. She had very nice legs.” In it, the horny, neurotic, and consistently gelastic author of The Extra Man and I Pass Like Night takes us journeying with a young, drunk, and mildly deranged writer and his crisp, possibly imaginary manservant. Ames appears at Black Oak Books (1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) at 7:30 p.m., with the smallest musical circus in the world, One Ring Zero, whose CD, As Smart as We Are, features lyrics by Ames, Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, Neil Gaiman, A.M. Homes, and lots of other hot lit’ry types. — Stefanie Kalem

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