Jungle Jim 

Ellroy hot-prowls Oakland

Tue 10/26

Crime novelist James Ellroy. Keep it short and blunt. Last three or four books. Lead-pipe declarative. Sucker-punch dialogue. No more sissified prose. Same old SoCal underbelly. Turning into a bore? Depends whom you ask. His new one, Destination: Morgue! -- L.A. Tales (Vintage, $13.95), follows the JFK-assassination conspiracy flurry of The Cold Six Thousand with Ellroy's meat and potatoes, a peripatetic tour of Los Angeles window peepers (such as himself), homicide cops, the murder case of actor Robert "Little Sleazer" Blake, and the whole Dragnet-Confidential vortex. Nine reportage pieces from his stint at GQ plus three novellas with gaudy titles: Hollywood Fuck Pad, Hot-Prowl Rape-O, and Jungletown Jihad. "My Life as a Creep" is yet another chapter in My Dark Places. Sample noir-talk: "Dusk dimmed down. Twilight twirled and slid through slits in the smog. I bopped behind belladonna and metastasized with ma huang. I was hopped up and homicidal." The "Demon Dog" visits Diesel in Oakland (5433 College Ave., 510-653-9965), Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. for a reading. Feel the sleaze. For more info: Ellroy.com -- Kelly Vance


Lit Happens

After sailing four thousand miles from Monterey to Mexico's Sea of Cortez and back to retrace John Steinbeck's storied 1940 voyage, Steinbeck scholar Jon Christensen discusses the trip and the author at Danville's Village Theatre (233 Front St.) (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... A season spent volunteering at an Indian orphanage sounds less than def to the young heroine of Mitali Perkins' novel Monsoon Summer. Meet Perkins at Orinda Intermediate School (Thu., 3:30 p.m.). ... Held captive by a crazed fan, the novelist hero of Stephen King's Misery learns that fame has its cost. Teens can see the movie and receive a copy of the novel, both for free, at the Berkeley Public Library (Fri., 7 p.m.). ... It's a polyglot parade: Claudia Rankine, Ray Chung, and others talk about tongues at UC Berkeley's Translation Symposium, in 315 Wheeler Hall (Fri., 1 p.m.). ... Bookish Princess Rosamond sallies forth in search of magical waters in The Well at the End of the World, by East Bayite Robert San Souci. Make a wish at Barnes & Noble Dublin (Sat., 3:30 p.m.). ... Coal-mining on our own Mt. Diablo comes grimily alive in The Green Age of Asher Witherow, whose author M. Allen Cunningham headlines a hike at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. For reservations and details, call the Lafayette Bookstore: 925-284-1233 (Sun., 3 p.m.) ... Back in his old yabyumming grounds, Gary Snyder reads from Danger on Peaks at Black Oak (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). ... Blood does tell, as Tim Junkin explains in Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA. Celebrate justice with Junkin at Cody's Telegraph (Tues., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

Sun 10/24

Hella Heian

During Japan's Heian period, the emperor led moon-viewing parties wherein his court would recite poetry, listen to mellow music, and drink wine. Get hella Heian yourself at the free Otsukimi Moon Viewing Festival this Sunday at Oakland's Lakeside Park, starting with an open house by the Golden State Bonsai Collection North. The deadline has passed to reserve a bento dinner, so bring a sandwich and enjoy the martial arts and taiko drumming performances starting at 6:30 p.m. And from 7:30 on, the Eastbay Astronomical Society provides telescopic viewing of the moon and other heavenly bodies. Oakland-Fukuoka.org, 510-534-4020. -- Stefanie Kalem

Sat 10/23

Countenance, Cleaved

Cracking the Mask at Cal's International House (2299 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley) offers two ways to address post-9/11 stereotyping: "Arab Cultural Competency," a film and lecture event with desserts from Arab cuisines, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (free); and, at 8 p.m., a program of improvisational theater based on stories told by members of the Bay Area Arab community ($5-$10). 510-642-3993. -- Stefanie Kalem

Thur 10/21

Hot Dish

Big Lou gets her squeeze on

In mid-19th-century Germany, at more or less the same time that Adolphe Saxe came up with his saxophone, the accordion was invented, a handy keyboard for missionaries and churches that couldn't afford organs. Little could its creators have guessed that in 2004 San Francisco's Big Lou would put the squeezebox to uses not even imagined in Annie Proulx's dark novel Accordion Crimes. From spiky punk-polka bands to real-deal Midwest accordion festivals, Big Lou has traveled and hung out with artists who have dedicated their lives to the instrument, and applying her experiences to her own music, whether in such ensembles as Polkacide and Thee Hellhounds, or as a founder of Those Darn Accordions. Today Big Lou has a new, fairly traditional (as those things go) band, Polka Casserole, which grew out of the camaraderie among the players on her latest recording project. In its first visit to Berkeley's Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave. at Gilman Street) Thursday, Polka Casserole plays for the dance crowd. As in any "traditional" Bay Area band, its roots have evolved to fit our lifestyles; thus Big Lou and crew play their own songs, polkas, and waltzes from around the world, as well as Tex-Mex, French, and even American country stylings. Along with Big Lou on accordion, voice, and hair, Polka Casserole features saxophonist Annelise Zamula, trombonist Greg Stephens, David Phillips on pedal steel, bassist David Golia, and drummer Gene Reffken. The 8:30 p.m. concert is preceded by a polka dance lesson at 8 p.m. Tickets are $9. Info: Ashkenaz.com or 510-525-5099. -- Larry Kelp


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