Unicorns. That's all anyone wants to talk about lately. With the '80s resurgence in full, acid-washed swing, those horned mythmakers are all the rage, with bands named after them (the Unicorns, Unicorn Club, and our favorite, Cocaine Unicorn) and their visages showing up on neu-fashion everywhere. But what of the Pegasus? Who will care for the Pegasus?!! The United Pegasus Foundation, that's who! Okay, okay, so they're not saving winged steeds. They're an Arcadia-based charity providing California's thoroughbreds "with a chance at a second career or a humane and deserved retirement." But maybe you'll be seeing Bellerophon's mythical mount after hanging out at Golden Gate Fields' annual Microbrew Festival for a while. There will be live thoroughbred racing all day, Live 105 will be there, and all beer proceeds benefit the Pegasus Foundation, so get drinking. The event starts at noon, and Golden Gate Fields is located at 1100 Eastshore Highway, off I-80, along the Bay in Albany. Info: 510-559-7300 and GoldenGateFields.com -- Stefanie Kalem
What's waiting to explode underfoot in Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Somalia? Countless landmines. Anti-landmine activist and Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus author John Gray speaks and screens a video on the topic in 145 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley. (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... But if you'd rather laugh than cry, check out residential joke-writer and Clinton & Me author Mark Katz at Cody's Southside. These days he thinks Al Sharpton is hilarious (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Indulge your gut and assuage your guilt in one fell swoop: Daughter's Keeper author Ayelet Waldman headlines a benefit dinner/reading at Oakland's Atrium Restaurant (1111 Broadway; suggested $40 donation aids the Alameda County Food Bank; to make mandatory reservations, call 510-843-3663, ext. 328) (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Arriving in San Francisco from the Midwest, dazed after her mother's death, Caroline Kraus made a new best friend. Then hell broke loose. Kraus reads from her memoir, Borderlines, at Lafayette Bookstore (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Wet feet make tracks in The Living Rain Forest: An Animal Alphabet, a lavishly illustrated introduction to beasts that thrive amid the sopping ferns. Meet artist-author Paul Kratter at Orinda Books (Sat., noon). ... Writing memoirs means getting catharsis -- and revenge. In Becoming Whole: Writing Your Healing Story, Linda Joy Myers works through how to handle secrets, ethical pickles, and more. She's at Boadecia's (Sat., 7:30 p.m.). ... For the hell of it, Danny Wallace placed an ad that said simply "Join me" in a small London paper a few years ago. Thousands took him up on it; read about Wallace's journey from nobody to cult leader in his gutbustingly funny new book Join Me! Meet him -- and join him if you dare -- at the new Pleasant Hill Book Store (Sun., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus
A Sonny Day
Everyone in the East Bay knows about Ralph "Sonny" Barger, founder and onetime president of the Oakland Hells Angels -- but did you know he was a novelist? Barger is coming back to his old stomping grounds this Saturday for a book signing and barbecue party for his first fictional work, Dead in 5 Heartbeats, at Bob Dron Harley Davidson (200 Hegenberger Rd., Oakland). He'll be joined by Tobie Gene Levingston, founder of the legendary African-American motorcycle club the East Bay Dragons, who also has a book out, Soul on Bikes. They'll sign books from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. It's free. 510-635-0100. -- Kelly Vance
From its title, you might think that Friday night's oratory (7 p.m.) at Oakland's Walden Pond Books by radical journalists Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair -- Bush and Kerry: A Dime's Worth of Difference? -- would be a rally for Ralph Nader. But the boys from Petrolia are only flogging their new Verso book, Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia. 3316 Grand Ave. 510-832-4438. -- Kelly Vance
Mexican heartthrob singer at Casino San Pablo
Casino San Pablo may be the little Las Vegas of the East Bay with its games of chance, but it also boasts a pretty good restaurant, the Broiler, and a multi-ethnic smorgasbord of music at the Oasis showroom. Increasingly, Mexican dances with DJs and live touring bands dominate the weekend dance-concert scene at the casino. But there are different strokes for different folks -- in early March, Cambodian musical stars Phan Navy, Srey Sophal, and Mom Narin rolled through, as have other Asian-based pop acts. Up next under the Moorish big top are appearances by three Mexican pop stars, beginning this Saturday night with banda balladeer Rogelio Martinez, followed by Pancho Barraza (March 20) and Los Yonics (March 27).
The twentysomething Martinez is the new face of Mexican regional pop music. Blessed with a suave, soft tenor voice, he's a heartthrob who stays on the Spanish-language radio charts by means of amorous hits such as "Si Tu Te Vas" (If You Leave). The ranchero singer was born in El Comedero in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, and has been singing since age eight. His chosen genre is the banda sound, which has its roots in the 19th-century Mexican military and municipal brass bands. Martinez does what pioneer bandleader Cruz Lizarraga did in the 1950s in Mazatlan, Sinaloa: he interprets pop songs of the day -- love-drenched boleros, corrido folk ballads, caribe rap -- with banda's trademark oompah textures. His fourth Fonovisa album, Amandote Otra Vez (Loving You Again), shows he is evolving into a producer with far-reaching ideas.
Martinez and his banda perform this Saturday at the Oasis showroom of Casino San Pablo, in a production by Promociones los Portables. 13255 San Pablo Avenue, San Pablo. Info: 510-215-1719 or Casino-SanPablo.com -- Jesse "Chuy" Varela
Culture Spy - February 19, 1:45 PM
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Culture Spy - February 15, 10:30 AM
Culture Spy - February 12, 5:45 PM
What the Fork - February 8, 3:57 PM