Mucho Multi 

We're all in this together.

WED 8/10

If it's turning into a blurry-bordered, polyglot Blade Runner world, the folks who created Oakland-based Culture Shock News -- a weekly video cable show that airs in Berkeley, Richmond, and Oakland on Channel 26 at 10:30 on Tuesday nights; Fremont and Newark on Channel 27 at 11 p.m. Tuesdays -- aim to make that transition all the more thrilling, if a bit self-conscious. "The Bay Area truly reflects what sociologists deem would be the next big thing in America -- a cross-cultural phenomenal explosion where it would be virtually impossible to determine a person's ethnic origin merely by assessing their physical attributes," says Culture Shock's events coordinator Yomi Ogunrinola. "It doesn't predict a situation where everyone is into the same thing or a situation where diversity is delimited. Rather, it portrays one where diversity and multiplicity are the keys to a robust commune, the big difference being that people accommodate, appreciate, and respect each other's cultures and customs."

Blending performance and commentary, the cable show reaches nearly a million Bay Area households and is looking to expand, spreading its name around with such Culture Shock Live! events as a spoken-word/poetry evening scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge in Oakland (341 13th St., 510-839-6169, free before 7 p.m., $5 after). Its headliner is Down These Mean Streets author Piri Thomas, who waxes soulful about his youth in Spanish Harlem -- home of drugs, guns, and what he calls "hot-and-cold-running cockroaches" -- and the years he spent in prison for attempted armed robbery and felonious assault. Also on the bill are Culture Shock creator and award-winning videographer Ian C. Moore; Fremont's singing, piano-playing painter Frederico Domondon; and James Cagney Jr., whose spoken-word piece Ebonic Plague mixes Shakespeare and advertising lingo to skewer racial stereotyping. -- Anneli Rufus

8/10-8/16

Lit Happens

Tattoo You

Having written books and articles for readers of all ages, Telling Secrets author and New York Times contributor Wendy Lichtman tells some secrets of her own -- about where ideas come from and what to do with them -- when she hosts a writing workshop at Lafayette Library (Wed., 4:30 p.m.). ... Everyone's favorite dyslexic wrestling coach, John Irving -- aka the author of The Cider House Rules and The World According to Garp -- makes the scene at Cody's Telegraph to discuss his latest novel, Until I Find You, which takes its actor-protagonist from tattoo parlors (where his mother inks sailors) to Hollywood (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Island rhythms and intrigues fuel Stuart Guinn's suspense novel Bad Sports, which he discusses at Spellbinding Tales. The author hails from Alameda, where the bookstore is, but the island in his saga is a much hotter one: Puerto Rico (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Want to be the next Dave Eggers? Learn how to put your own story down on paper at the first of two three-hour memoir-writing workshops offered this month at Pinole Library. Registration required; call 510-758-2741 (Sat., 11 a.m.). ... Prize-winning pint-size Sapphos and budding Blakes read from their works at San Ramon Library, whose summer-long poetry contest for students culminates in an awards ceremony (Sat., 11:30 a.m.). ... When she's not working to improve the condition of Californians' lungs, Diana Quartermaine of the California Department of Health Services is a spoken-word artist. With Christina Hutchins, she starts off a poetry reading and an open mic at Alameda's Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru St. (Sat., 7 p.m.). ... Dreaming of Dream of the Red Chamber? Scribbling in the margins of The Water Margin? Join the Classics of Chinese Literature book group at Barnes & Noble Emeryville (Mon., 7 p.m.). ... Former I. Magnin model (she was four) Chokwadi belongs to the Tres Santos poetry ensemble along with mark g. and Muteado; the trio hosts an open mic at Oakland's World Ground Cafe (3726 MacArthur Blvd.) (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

SUN 8/14

Livin' La Dolce Vita

Do you prefer gelato to ice cream, lament the lack of televised bocce ball games on EPSN, and insist on the correct pronunciation of "espresso" at coffee bars? Can you watch The Godfather and La Dolce Vita over and over again without ever getting bored? Do you walk around in a fedora listening to Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima, and Luciano Pavarotti on your iPod, while muttering "Fuhgeddaboudit"? Do you tell your kids their birthday and Christmas presents "fell off a truck"? Well, you can finally indulge in your love of all things Italiano this Sunday, when the Festa Italiana comes to the Dunsmuir Historic Estate. The afternoon's entertainment includes music by Gondola Servizio and Expresso 5, in addition to a demonstration by world-champion pizza thrower Tony Gemignani, and enough traditional food and wine to take you back to the Old Country. So wossamatta you? Tickets are $8-$13. Info: Dunsmuir.org/calendar or 925-866-9599. -- Eric K. Arnold

FRI 8/12

Ear Candy Stripers

Ironic, iconic modern rock at the Greek

If you've seen their bugged-out, Nicola Tesla-inspired vignette in the Jim Jarmusch movie Coffee and Cigarettes, you know that the duo known as the White Stripes a) have some pretty weird ideas and b) possess an offbeat sense of humor that belies their current iconic status as Serious Rock Gods of This Modern Age. Though they've been riding the wave of mainstream-approved commercial success since their breakthrough album White Blood Cells, their latest CD, Get Behind Me Satan, is actually quite subversive, filled as it is with nuances and subtleties that suggest there's more going on than just minimalist white-boy blues circa Jagger '65. The recent hit "Blue Orchid" certainly makes it easy to get those ya-yas out, with the potent juxtaposition of Jack White's falsetto vocals and distortion-laced, upbeat guitar riffage, combined with drummer Meg White's Bonham-esque beatkeeping. See these intentionally ironic hipsters this Friday night at Berkeley's Greek Theatre. Trucker hats and studded belts optional. $40.50. 510-444-TIXS or APEConcerts.com -- Eric K. Arnold

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