World Groovin' 

Get international at La Peña

FRI 5/12

Bhangra samples in Jay-Z songs just ain't enough, you feel us? San Francisco hip-hop and funk outfit Bayonics grew out of storied samba ensemble Loco Bloco, so the nine-piece is a perfect choice to represent the Bay Area at the second annual International Hip-Hop Exchange, a party celebrating global and grassroots conscious hip-hop this Friday night at La Peña. The event, themed "Sin Fronteras" ("without borders"), also features two Mexico City acts from the artist collective Sector Lucido (both on the Nomadic Sound System roster). There's the duo Magesterio, and Mexico City MC Bocafloja ("loose lips"), who got his start in 1997 with the group Lifestyle and moved on to join up with Microponk before embarking last year upon a neo-soul, jazz, and early-'90s hip-hop-influenced solo mission. IHX begins at 9 p.m., and admission costs $5 for students with ID, $10 for the rest of us. La Peña is at 3105 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. Call 510-849-2568 or visit www.lapena.org for more information. -- Stefanie Kalem

5/19-5/25

Lit Happens

Taut graphic evocations of carnal knowledge in an outhouse, a public restroom, and a big rig are classic Timothy Liu. The San Jose-born, Lambda-winning poet -- whose books include Of Thee I Sing and Burnt Offerings -- reads with Alice Jones at Black Oak (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Still cartooning after all these years, the legendary Jules Feiffer headlines a day of hilarity for "kids and their adults" at Cody's Fourth Street, alongside Eoin Colfer, Irish author of children's faves the Artemis Fowl series and The Eternity Code (Thurs., 4:30 p.m.). ... Berkeley's most prolific author Barry Gifford is best known for his novel Wild at Heart, but there is more to him than that -- about forty books' worth more. He reads from his latest, Do the Blind Dream?, at Diesel (Thurs., 7:30 p.m.). ... Just because they're your own flesh and blood doesn't mean they don't want to hurt you. Contributors to the anthology Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving Beyond Recovery make no bones about abuse at Boadecia's (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... Welcome to a future in which rulers battle for control of gas mines in outer space. It's waiting for you in Counterfeit Kings, a debut sci-fi novel from Adam Connell, who of all places in the galaxy happens to be at Berkeley's Other Change of Hobbit (Sat., 2 p.m.). ... Reframing the planets as "forces," the houses as "states," and the signs as "styles," Antero Alli updates the sky with an eye on self-realization in Astrologik: Astrology as an Archetypal Language. Reassess the sun with Alli at Berkeley's Alaya Bookstore (1713 University Ave.) (Sun., 7 p.m.). ... "I am an Alcoholic and an Addict and a Criminal," James Frey declared again and again in his riveting, wrenching rehab memoir, A Million Little Pieces, whose root-canal-without-anesthesia scene must be one of the most harrowing passages ever put into print. Meet brave James at Rakestraw (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

FRI 5/21

Grow Your Own

Saturday is the "public" day of the annual AgriCultural Roots Fair at Laney College Channel Park (10th and Fallon streets) in Oakland, which means that everyone -- not just schoolkids -- is invited to get the skinny on healthy eats, school gardens, how to recycle and make compost, and the benefits of farm-fresh produce. The free all-day event (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) features "A Walk Around Bay Area Farmlands" on the Lake Merritt estuary as well as more live music, youthful performers, athletes, and food than you can shake a celery stalk at. For more info, visit SageCenter.org -- Kelly Vance

5/22

Sin in the City

Despite naming itself after a classic of '60s pulp fiction, Sin in Space harks back to the golden era of indie college rock, drawing frequent comparisons to both the Pixies and Pavement. Down in Santa Cruz, SiS opens up for the big names that trot through town -- here in Oakland, the band headlines a 7 p.m. show at Mama Buzz, 2318 Telegraph Ave., with openers the Huxtables. For more info, call 510-465-4073. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 5/20

Workout to Work

This Thursday, take your bike instead of driving

It's fun, doable, and just plain cool," says CalBike.org, so there's no excuse for driving to work on Thursday, this year's tenth annual, nine-county Bike To Work Day. According to Oakland's Metropolitan Transportation Commission, sponsors of the event, more than one million Bay Area residents live within five miles of their workplaces, yet only about 36,000 regularly bike to work. Doug Johnson, transportation and planning analyst at the MTC, says that people often don't pedal it to work "because they have a perception that it is harder than it is." He cycles even if he is wearing a suit, insisting that it's fun and "better than coffee" to fuel your day. Transbay ferries are also encouraging the healthier commute by offering free rides to two-wheelers. Riders who register can pick up goodies on the way -- including Zone bars, Bull Frog sunscreen, and two-for-one Amtrak tickets -- at a number of "energizer stations" throughout the Bay Area. A highlight is the popular pancake breakfast at Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza. Participants are eligible to win prizes, including round-trip flights for two to Hawaii and a red folding bike.

Noteworthy: If all the folks who live close to their workplace biked on May 20, tailpipe emissions alone would be reduced by 150,000 pounds (MTC). Still not motivated to help reduce global warming? Be aware that riding a bike burns 350 to 700 calories per hour. And your flat tires or broken gears are no excuse, because local bike shops are already offering a 10 percent discount on tune-ups. You can register, find your local energizer station or bike shop, and get more info at 511.org -- Amrita Sidhu

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