What's this? A tai chi spear set performed to music from The Fifth Element? Field recordings of African pygmy singers as the backdrop to the Five Animal Frolic qi gong from second-century China? An opening blessing by writer Alice Walker? It's all part of the yin-yang mix offered up at the thirtieth anniversary shindig for Wu Tao Kuan Institute of Martial Arts, the acclaimed school of Taoist Master Alex Feng, on Saturday in the Laurel district of Oakland. Martial-arts aficionados and the merely curious are invited to an afternoon of rare spectacle, mastery, and demonstrations as experts in wu shu, judo, jujitsu, tai chi, and qi gong -- from as far away as China, Japan, and South America -- come together to celebrate the founding of a school that started as a small storefront operation on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. And of course, in the finest East Bay tradition of urban gatherings, the celebration will be topped off with an outdoor feast and dancing. Who knows? You may find yourself grooving next to Professor Keiko Fukuda, the highest-ranking female judoka in the world, or maybe jujitsu grandmaster Wally Jay, regarded as one of the hundred most influential martial arts personalities of all time.
One of California's leading practitioners of Chinese medicine -- founder Dr. Feng, with black belts in judo and jujitsu -- is also a master of wu shu and internal styles of tai chi and qi gong. The current incarnation of his school, now housed at Zhi Dao Guan on MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, the Bay Area's first major Taoist center, is dedicated to teaching ancient Taoist traditions that emphasize simplicity and harmony in both its fighting and meditative forms.
Performances start at 3 p.m. at Victory Outreach Church, 3818 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Banquet and dancing at 6 p.m. Tickets at the door are $75 for the whole shindig; $40 for performances only; $35 for banquet and dance only. For information, call 510-336-0129 or visit www.thetaoistcenter.com -- Pei Shan
Funny Feel I
Avant-garde artists and filmmakers are fond of taking well-known (or well-mocked, in many cases) cultural products and twisting them until they scream. They use fancy words like "detournement" to describe this, but it's really just an easy way to have a little light fun with someone else's work. In 1992, Anne McGuire had a brainstorm: She would get a (pre-Macrovision-protected) videotape copy of the arguably entertaining paranoid sci-fi pic The Andromeda Strain, then recut it from back to front, so that every shot in the film played straight, but in reverse shot order. Thus, novelist Michael Crichton's scientists first save the world from the killer virus from space, then watch helplessly as it spreads from the "immune" baby to the rest of the town. McGuire, who will probably tell you she did it to "subvert linearity," appears in person tonight (Wednesday, June 25) at the screening of "her" epic, Strain Andromeda, The , at Pacific Film Archive (7:30 p.m.). McGuire's film is preceded by another Andromeda rip-off, Les LeVeque's seven-minute short, Strained Andromeda Strain. The PFA Theater is at 2575 Bancroft Way on the UCB campus. For program info, call 510-642-1124 or visit www.bampfa.berkeley.edu -- Kelly Vance
Art imitates rock, and vice-versa
Indie rock and comic art -- two great tastes that taste great together, especially when you wash it all down with a beer or four. The second annual June Bug Bash features some of the East Bay's best in both arenas. The sweet chocolate component is represented by sets from Santa Rosa's sprawlicious Rum Diary, indie-pop favorites Dealership, Oakland's Cast of Thousands, and the drums-and-bass duo with the tasty-sounding name and the nontechno sound, Royal Dutch. For the creamy peanut butter side, you've got work on display by Jesse Reklaw (Slow Wave), Lark Pien (Long Tail Kitty), Thien Pham (Words & Pictures), Wahab Algarmi (Titillating Tales), Trevor Alixopulos (Quagga, Modern Fascist Quarterly), and Erik Nebel (King of the Monkeys). The Stork Club is located at 2330 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, and the 21-and-up event begins at 9 p.m. Cover's $5. Call 510-444-6174 for venue details, and visit www.junebugbash.com for info about the artists and performers. -- Stefanie Kalem
You might expect that if a group of musicians from New Orleans were to devote itself to the currently fashionable world-music back-to-Africa scene, it would be heavy on the funk and down to the roots. Los Hombres Calientes are. Three years after starting their project of tracing the musical portion of the African diaspora, percussionist Bill Summers and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield -- the Hot Men -- are having a good time connecting the dots from Haitian vodou drum rituals to Santeria dancefests in Matanzas, Cuba, back to the Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians and church gospel hymns in NOLa. The band's latest CD, Volume 4: Vodou Dance (Basin Street) covers all these styles and more as they tour the Caribbean, and they'll show everything they have this weekend at Yoshi's (Friday through Sunday), with an octet that plays salsa, New Orleans R&B, Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban traditional chants -- the wide world of African influence. -- Kelly Vance