Blame Larry 

Disturbing images from the '70s

WED 7/2

In Larry Cohen's rarely screened God Told Me To , devoutly Catholic New York cop Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco) is disturbed by a number of shootings in which the sniper exclaims the title tag line. How relevant, since the same excuse is the mantra of current evildoers, from John Ashcroft to Osama bin Laden. Of course, terrorists don't have to stoop to wearing a cop's uniform and pulling the trigger in the middle of the St. Patrick's Day parade, as you see the then-unknown Andy Kaufman doing in an early scene. Like demigods themselves, they get others to do their dirty work. God Told Me To (1976) is part of the Pacific Film Archive's "Excess of Evil" program, a series of films exploring otherworldly evil. The god these snipers obey is indeed not of this earth, but the forms it takes in earthlings is recognizably human. So it's natural to see devotees trying to recruit Nicholas in what looks like a corporate board of directors' meeting, or mistaking an effeminate, longhaired hippie lighting too many candles in a basement for their deity.

But perhaps most human (i.e. male, in this case) is the association of pure evil with female powers of procreation, a Cohen preoccupation also seen in his It's Alive (not in this program). PFA curator Steve Seid, who counts It's Alive as one of his favorites, sees the fascination of God Told Me To as an exploration of "a completely new source of evil -- not the anti-Christ but an alien hybrid evil." The climactic holy vision of this evil is a vulva, suggesting both stigmata and irresistible refuge. That's the key to Larry Cohen's genius as a filmmaker: He can have you slapping your knee over stories of alien abduction and rape and the breeding of a race of mass murderers, but his disturbing images trigger an anxiety that lingers long after the laughter has faded. Director Cohen appears in person tonight, July 2, at the 7:30 p.m. screening. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu -- Frako Loden

FRI 7/4

Fa-risky

Girls' night out

Do you like ladies? Are you a lady? Do you consider the term "lady" an insult? Then you may want to haul your nasteriffic self out to Hayward tonight, and the first Friday night of each and every month, for Risqué. This night for girls who dig girls goes down at Raja, 1275 W. Winton Ave., and bills itself as "a party for open-minded adults." Judging by the night's Web site -- www.risque.20fr.com -- that might very well translate into "pick-up joint," baby. To entertain you between macks, there are performances by the Eye Candy Dancers, including Brown Suga, Mz. Creole, Treasure, Kat, and Sweet N Low, who claim to have "turned erotic dancing into an art form," with their "Sinfully Tasteful" performances. There are also DJs spinning hip-hop, R&B, and dancehall to help get your body moving. The intimate Raja boasts a private VIP section and an outside patio, and the party also offers raffles, lap dances, and drink specials all night long, so 21 and up only, please. Things kick off at 10 p.m. and wind down around 3 a.m., with a dress code of no tennis shoes and no caps strictly enforced. Call 510-464-4560 for further information. -- Stefanie Kalem

7/7-8/28

Heroic Hayward

Zulema Di Marco 's sculptures are heroic, even monolithic stone figures and faces with a dynamic, windswept-looking horizontal flow -- almost like a section of a monumental frieze. The social-themed paintings of Gabriel Navar belong in the same league -- they're reflective of what the artist calls the "spiritual, political, and economic embrace," with an emphasis on the global community. So it's natural that Di Marco's sculptures and Navar's paintings are grouped together in a two-artist show at John O'Lague Galleria in Hayward. More than a dozen pieces by each artist are on display in the exhibition, which opens Monday, July 7, and runs through August 28. An artists' reception is scheduled for Friday, July 11, 5:30 to 8 p.m. The O'Lague Galleria is at Hayward City Hall, 777 B St. across from the Hayward BART station. For info on the artists, visit www.zulemadimarco.com and gabrielnavar.tripod.com -- Kelly Vance

7/3-7/6

High on Music

The High Sierra Music Festival wants you to know that it has Steve Winwood on the roster this year, but we want you to know that it has a cooler lineup than that. The festival has booked the hipper of the hippie sound faction, including New York City's ruthlessly amazing Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, the Sun Ra Arkestra led by Marshall Allen, former Primus leader Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, Michael Franti and Spearhead, the North Mississippi All-Stars, local freakazoids Japonize Elephants and Bizar Bazaar and, oh, at least seventy more. The whole thirteenth annual shebang runs Thursday through Sunday in Quincy, four hours from SF and 75 minutes from Reno. The Feather River Canyon location is at elevation 3,800 and, besides the requisite camping, offers hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, and even golf and tennis. Gates open at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Tickets: $45-$50 for a single day to $165 for a four-day pass. Multiple-day tickets include camping on a first-come, first-served basis, and kids five and under get in free. www.highsierramusic.com or 510-420-1529. -- Stefanie Kalem

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