Two-Odd Days 

Weird intersections at Epic Arts

4/17-4/18

The good news: The intersection of Balkan and Middle Eastern music, jazz improv, and electronic kadiddling is high-traffic enough in the Bay Area that it warrants its own label/collective, the three-year-old Odd Shaped Case. The bad news: Exciting? Yes. Profitable? Not so much. The good news, redux: These guys love to play music, so when they decide to put on a fund-raiser, it's a weekend-long humdinger, and everybody wins. Saturday night starting at 8 p.m., check out the Toids, Aaron Novik's Cutting Guard, and GOJOGO; Sunday at 7 p.m., you can sample the pickPocket Ensemble, Darren Johnston's Scenty-Gents, and Tim Bulkley's In Flux (poor guy). Both events take place at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, and both feature tapas -- focusing on seasonal vegetables -- prepared by Shawn Mattiuz of À Côté. Admission is on a sliding scale from $8-$20, and the tasty treats cost $5-$7 (hey, bub, this is a benefit, not a soup kitchen, and these cats need cash for distribution). Info: EpicArts.org or 510-644-2204. -- Stefanie Kalem

4/14-4/17

Lit Happens

Determined after 9/11 to discover whether art is transcendent or trivial, novelist Frederick Turner went spelunking amid Europe's prehistoric cavern-paintings. The result is In the Land of Temple Caves, a treatise on art's role in sustaining the human spirit. He's at Black Oak (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... The infertile heroine of Jessica Barksdale Inclán's novel One Small Thing wishes fruitlessly for a child, then discovers she already has one -- well, almost. Her husband does. Oops. Meet the award-winning Orinda author at Orinda Books (Thur., 4 p.m.). ... Genocide is nothing new, as Micheline Marcom proves in her novel The Daydreaming Boy, whose Armenian hero survives the Turkish massacre that decimated his people, only to confront impending war in latter-day Beirut. Meet Marcom at Cody's Fourth Street (Thur., 7 p.m.). ... She put you off pork in My Year of Meats and kept you laughing while you threw away your steak knives. In her latest novel All Over Creation, Ruth Ozeki ponders genetically modified plants. Let Ozeki ruin your appetite at Diesel (Thur., 7:30 p.m.). ... Books don't go rancid, so why pay top prices to buy them new? Bag bardic bargains at Castro Valley Public Library's Friends of the Library book sale (Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.). ... Riff and roar at an open mic featuring poetry, music, and standup comedy at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists (1924 Cedar St.) (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... Once a bloodthirsty Berkeley carnivore, the grizzly is now a harmless, fuzzy-wuzzy football mascot. Kicking off UC's Cal Day celebrations, Susan Snyder reads from her book Bear in Mind in the Bancroft Library (Sat., 10 a.m.). ... Deer devour roses and skunks don't get along with dogs, as Gary Bogue and Chuck Todd reveal in The Raccoon Next Door: Getting Along with Urban Wildlife, new from Berkeley's Heyday Books. Ask the guys how to attract hummingbirds at Barnes & Noble Berkeley (Sat., 3 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

TUE 4/20

Hole-Earth Catalog

"No matter where you are in this city, you're never more than ten feet away from a rat!" snarls Johnny in Mike Leigh's movie Naked. Robert Sullivan, author of Rats (Bloomsbury, $23.95), says it's more like twenty feet, but he was talking about New York, not London. Sullivan spent many nights standing in a Lower Manhattan alley observing "the city's most unwanted inhabitants" for his agreeably breezy literary nature study, which profiles exterminators and antipoverty activists while musing on the mingled destinies of humankind and our constant companion, Rattus norvegicus. Sullivan tells his tales at Cody's on Telegraph Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. CodysBooks.com -- Kelly Vance

MON 4/19

Their Pal Joey

The short film Today I Vote for My Joey follows a group of elderly Jewish women, and one Haitian nurse, who vote for the 2000 Gore /Lieberman presidential ticket in Palm Beach County, Florida, only to discover that they've actually cast ballots for that parech, Pat Buchanan. Oy va voy. Watch it with filmmaker Aviva Kempner at a benefit for JERICO at the Oakland Box, 1928 Telegraph Ave. Info: 510-893-1063. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 4/15

Aux Barricades!

Celebrate the Paris Commune at 21 Grand

It was brief, it was bloody, and it changed the course of history. The Paris Commune of 1871 was the first successful revolution of the working class. Reacting to German occupation after the Franco-Prussian War, as well as to the new French government, Parisian workers set up a governing body which, among other things, gave all church property to the state, abolished interest on debts, banned prayer in schools, and publicly burned the guillotine. The revolutionary government lasted for two months. The Versailles Army swept through the city and shot thirty thousand unarmed workers, hauling thousands more to jail and into exile. Karl Marx wrote a book about the Paris Commune, and its idealistic possibilities have fueled the passions of anarchists, Marxists, and revolutionaries of the past 130 years. On Thursday at 21 Grand in Oakland, A Celebration of the Paris Commune reignites those passions with an evening of history, music, and festivities. Anarchist historian Barry Pateman will describe the history of the Commune and its relevance in today's political climate. Bateman, who works at the Emma Goldman Papers Project at UC Berkeley and at the Kate Sharpley Library, is a specialist in the development of American anarchism and how it relates to radical movements including socialism and free speech. Joining Pateman will be the Luddites, four excellent experimental players whose approach to music may be just as subversive and revolutionary as the Paris Commune's was to politics. The Luddites are violinist and vocalist Carla Kihlstedt, cellist Marika Hughes, drummer Ches Smith, and bassist Devin Hoff. The event starts at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 449-B 23rd St. in Oakland. For information call 510-44GRAND, or check 21Grand.org -- Sarah Cahill

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