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Mime Troupe banks on laffs

7/9-8/28

Bay Areans are schooled in interpreting the subtler signs of summer. We have to be: Daytime temperatures consistently hover just shy of 65º F, our July Fourth fireworks have a pretty good chance of being enshrouded by fog, and it's been a long time since anybody has seen a firefly around here. But there's no mistaking the San Francisco Mime Troupe's annual play for anything but an indication of the season's true arrival. It just wouldn't be summer in the bay without an all-out comic assault on the establishment. This year's show, Doing Good, is inspired by John Perkins' nonfiction bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, described by the Boston Herald as "the conceptual love child of James Bond and Milton Friedman." It's 1968; the Vietnam War is on TV, and James (Noah James Butler) and Molly (Lisa Hori-Garcia) want to do something to help make the world a better place ... while avoiding the draft. The two join the Peace Corps and get posted to Ecuador, but find it a disillusioning experience. James soon goes to work as a corporate economist, convinced that it's a better way of "doing good" in the Third World. From Indonesia to Iran, he persuades the governments of strategically important countries to take out huge loans for infrastructure development, then contracts out the jobs to American companies. In this way, he hooks the countries into the US "corporatocracy," eternally indebting them while funneling money into corporate pockets, all in the guise of easing poverty. It might not sound hilarious, but the Mimes can always be counted on to droll up otherwise musty stuff like the international banking system.

If you're lucky, you'll catch a sunny day's performance. But even if clouds threaten, they certainly can't dim the troupe's spotlight on American imperialism. Doing Good shows around the greater Bay Area until October, coming to Berkeley's Cedar Rose Park this Saturday and Sunday (music 1:30, show 2 p.m.), Oakland's Mosswood Park on July 30, and other East Bay venues later this summer. See SFMT.org for a complete schedule. -- Nora Sohnen

TUE 7/12

B.K. Breakdown

Wigga, Please

Bakari Kitwana is one of the hip-hop generation's most credible literary voices. His credentials include stints at Third World Press, NPR, and Source magazine -- where his tenure as executive editor was marked with an emphasis on global politics and urban socio-economics. His last book, The Hip-Hop Generation, was a cogent analysis of young black people born between 1965 and 1984, and he's followed that up with a new book on an equally relevant topic: the HHG's vanilla representatives. Why White Kids Love Rap: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America looks at the phenomenon of Caucasian involvement in a culture traditionally associated with people of color. Kitwana reads from it Tuesday (7:30 p.m.) at Cody's on Telegraph. More info: CodysBooks.com -- Eric K. Arnold

SUN 7/10

Straight Outta Cotobato

Kulintang -- a relative of Malay-Indonesian gamelan, named for the arrangement of eight small gongs that produce its characteristic percussive tones -- is the traditional music of the Maguindanao, Maranao, and Tausug people of Mindanao Island in the Philippines. Ethnomusicologist and musician Danongan Sibay Kalanduyan is a recognized master of the form, and his instrumental and dance group, the Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble , regularly entertains in Filipino communities in the United States. Sunday afternoon (2 p.m.) they branch out to UC Berkeley's Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology for a dance concert in full regalia. Adults $4, seniors $3, students $1. HearstMuseum.berkeley.edu -- Kelly Vance

SUN 7/10 Bush Babies

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to surround the White House with an angry mob, chances are C. Clark Kissinger, Travis Morales, and Larry Everest will be there, brandishing torches and pitchforks. Kissinger, a contributor to Revolution newspaper; Morales, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party; and Everest, Revolution correspondent and author, have a plan that's summed up in the title of the talk they're giving Sunday at Revolution Books in Berkeley: The World Can't Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime! Ask them about it at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at 2425 Channing Way. Info: 510-848-1196. -- Kelly Vance

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