Rarely does one find a magazine sharp enough to seriously consider the contributions of Miss Piggy. Such is Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Started in 1996, the Oakland-based independent publication successfully marries feminist contemplation with pop-culture criticism, for "analytical-yet-fun, sharp-yet-sympathetic" looks at everything from movies and music to cleavage and credit cards. Editorial and creative director Andi Zeisler sums up the quarterly this way: "Bitch puts a lucid, balanced face on feminism for devoted social-justice crusaders, TV-obsessed couch potatoes, and everyone in between." Over the years, Bitch has taken on a host of such heady themes as obsessions, fame, appetite, and biological destiny. This fall, faux goes pop culture with the release of the Fake issue, a 96-page exploration of the counterfeit, the artificial, the phony, and the fictitious. Following Bitch's customary blend of thought-provoking interviews, essays, and opinions, the issue includes an examination of "the marketing of ironic hipster-racism," an uneasy dive into the world of online porn "humilitainment," and a Q&A with comedian Janeane Garofalo. Also, keep an eye out for "The Fake List," a celebration of everything from hair extensions to Space Food Sticks.
For more variation on this theme, check out The Fake Party, a benefit for the not-for-profit and proudly independent publication happening this Saturday at the recently reopened Mile High Club (3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland). According to Bitch publisher Lisa Jervis, the plan is to parallel the mission of the magazine itself: "It's important for our ideas to be out there, to interact with our readers, and to honor artists who represent what we find exciting and interesting about current culture." Consequently, look forward to a livewire lineup of local, feminist-friendly artists, including Lipstick Conspiracy, a transgendered five-piece that mixes power pop with glamour rock; and TITS, a girl group whose sound has been described as a kind of "spaced-out black metal with tribal rhythms and shrieking feedback music." Lizzy and the Redbirds, a trio of Mills College students serving up '60s-style tunes, round out the evening. $10 to $20. 9 p.m. 510-654-4549 or BitchMagazine.com -- Joy White
Outrageous and introspective, Neal Pollack peels and ferments the roots of rock 'n' roll in his unabashedly self-referential debut novel Never Mind the Pollacks. Kick out the fictional jams with him at Diesel (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Poachers commit visceral indignities on bears -- oh, the gall! -- in Night Game, the latest mystery by East Bayite Kirk Russell, who chews the fat about bladders at Orinda Books (Thu., 4 p.m.). ... An expat Filipino puzzles over what to do with a newly acquired fortune in Han Ong's novel The Disinherited. Hear him in the Institute of East Asian Studies Conference Room, 2223 Fulton St., Berkeley; for details, call 510-642-2809 (Thu., 5 p.m.). ... Bone up on the PaiPai, Kiliwa, Cocopa, Mohave, Maricopa, Quechan, Yavapai, Havasupai, and other California Native Americans as archaeologist M. Steven Shackley, editor of The Early Ethnography of the Kumeyaay, signs copies at UC Berkeley's Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (Fri., 4 p.m.). ... Amber waves of grain aren't cheap, as Richard Walker explains in The Conquest of Bread, his exposé of California agribusiness. Hear him spill the beans at Berkeley's Signal Books (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... Oh, yeah, that book: Bible by the Bay at Berkeley's Lehrhaus Judaica (2736 Bancroft Way) features 25 workshops probing the Old Testament's take on food, dating, and sexual orientation. (Sun., 1 p.m.) ... Got an enthusiasm for ectoplasm? Ghost hunter Gloria Young, author of There Are No Ghosts in Santa Clara, talks shop at Alameda's Spellbinding Tales (Sat., 7 p.m.). ... In Why Some Like It Hot, celebrated natural historian Gary Paul Nabhan ponders evolutionary gastronomy. Ask him why you're hardwired to love mayo at Black Oak (Sun., 7:30 p.m.). ... They're all hard acts to follow: Tobias Wolff, Gail Tsukiyama, and Jervey Tervalon read from their fiction in the student union at Mills College's Rothwell Center (Tue., 7 p.m.). ... Blackbirds sing in the dead of night as Pulitzer Prize-winning Half Moon Bayite Richard Rhodes discusses John James Audubon: The Making of an American at Barnes & Noble Walnut Creek (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus
Born in San Antonio, Mario Hernandez spent the first ten years of his life in rural Kyushu, Japan. And though Hernandez, the force behind (and in front of) East Bay outfit From Bubblegum to Sky , bears pop pedigrees from the two countries who arguably make it best, the music heard on the band's second album, Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen, is a classic juxtaposition of brooding, pessimistic lyrics and pure pop pleasure usually done best by, well, British folks. Nothing Sadder ... features melodies, fever, and feeling cribbed from the Lovin' Spoonful, the Pet Shop Boys, and David Bowie, with touches ranging from handclaps to '90s-style techno beats providing a constantly shifting ecstatic pop landscape -- think the New Pornographers with fewer cooks in the kitchen. Hernandez and his new backing band play the Stork Club (2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) Saturday with the Disappointment and the Summer In Between . Show starts at 9 p.m. or thereabouts. $5. 510-444-6174. -- Stefanie Kalem
The Beast Laid Bare
Why can't monsters get along with other monsters?
Here be monsters, but not the kind you're thinking of. Tonight, three of the brightest male voices in indie-rock -- in critical reputation if not necessarily in timbre -- get down unplugged-style when Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and M. Ward (of his own damn self) bring their Monsters of Folk tour to Zellerbach Hall. The tour is not just aptly named -- all three will strip down their neurotic rasslin' matches to the bare acoustics -- but also something of a once-in-a-lifetime event, since, after the three performers' half-hour-or-so solo sets are through, they'll do a roughly hour-long collaborative set to close out the night. So whether you're a fan of Oberst's dipsomaniac precocity, James' turned-on, dropped-out Dixie croon, or Ward's genre-defying, narrative intimacy, you'll be sure to hear something new at this show. Tickets cost $18.50 for second-balcony seats, $23.50 for all others, and are available at Ticketmaster.com. Showtime is 8:30 p.m., and Zellerbach is on the south side of the UC Berkeley campus. -- Stefanie Kalem
Culture Spy - February 19, 1:45 PM
What the Fork - February 15, 2:00 PM
Culture Spy - February 15, 10:30 AM
Culture Spy - February 12, 5:45 PM
What the Fork - February 8, 3:57 PM