Mitch? Mickey? 

The answer, my friend ...

FRI 5/28

When Peter, Paul & Mary sang "Blowin' in the Wind" some forty years ago, it struck a chord with the zeitgeist of a sad and confused wartime nation. And while many years have passed and the folk music genre has evolved, today's politics, sadly, look much the same. That's precisely why we still require the truth-tellers in our diminishingly diverse community to rise up and tell it like it is. The finest folk musicians have always seemed capable of conveying the world's problems in a song, making them both palpable and pleasing to the ear. For this reason, Project X -- a passionate East Bay activist group formerly known as PUEBLO -- invited some of the Bay Area's grooviest folk talent to help summon the mighty winds of change at its Friday night benefit, Folk and Radical Politics Extravaganza.

Don't let the name fool you. We doubt you'll see any mod hairdos or black turtlenecks at this event. Instead, expect a set of stellar old-school banjo slapping with the premier folk ensemble Folk This!, a tradition with a twist. They'll be joined by outspoken word troupe the Molotov Mouths -- authors of the acclaimed Explosive New Writing -- an intrepid group of expressionists from both sides of the tracks who speak out on the complications of transgender sex, the injustice in disability discrimination, the need for protesting against war, and other capitalist adventures. Also participating are radical a cappella women's trio Samsara and Sean Corkery, otherwise known as Toofless Sean, howling out his original folk blues. This may not be the lilty, guitar-strumming folk your mama remembers, but these aren't exactly kinder, gentler times, either. Join Project X in getting informed and having a little fun this Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. at the AK Press Warehouse, 674-A 23rd St., Oakland, between MLK and San Pablo. $8-$20 donation requested. -- Justine Nicole

5/26-6/1

Lit Happens

Art on the Lam

After masterminding the 1986 heist of a Goya, a Gainsborough, two Rubens, and a Vermeer from a palatial private home, a fat Dublin gangster was gunned down by the IRA. In The Irish Game, Matthew Hart traces this and other high dramas in art theft. Ask him who stole Munch's The Scream at Rakestraw Books (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Don't let its cheery title fool you: In Bill Campbell's sci-fi novel Sunshine Patriots, a corporate government is out to destroy a pacifist planet. Speculate with the author (below) at Goodenough Books (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Undertaking a road trip all about road trips, David Haward Bain and his family retraced the first transcontinental railroad's route from Omaha to San Francisco in 2000. Searching for clues about past and present, they scried the backbone of America. Bain reads from Old Iron Road at Barnes & Noble Walnut Creek (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... And here on the Wild West's farthest flap, Jonathan Raymond reads at Diesel from his debut novel The Half-Life, which follows famished fur trappers through the Oregon Territory in the 1820s -- and mixes it up with a modern drama in which two teens unearth two skeletons, and it's all about friendship and death (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Blasted out of their houses, they lived underground in tube stations, as Sayre Van Young reveals in a slide show at the Berkeley Public Library's North Branch based on her book, London's War: A Traveler's Guide to World War II (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... When chess was invented, it didn't have a queen. Two centuries later, when Europeans learned the game from their Arab conquerors, the queen took up residence on the board, replacing the vizier who once stood on that spot. In Birth of the Chess Queen, women's-history expert Marilyn Yalom follows five hundred years in the history of everybody's favorite piece. Check her at Black Oak (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... Bid a sad goodbye to Boadecia's at the soon-to-be-shut shop's last Dyke Open Myke. To register, call 510-655-1015 (Sat., 7:30 p.m.). ... Baseball for Rookies author Jeff Lichtman banters about bats at the El Cerrito Library with special guest Pumpsie Green, the first African American to play for the Boston Red Sox (Tues., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

SAT 5/29

Maracata?

Spring is solidly in the air; Bay Area fancies turn to feathers, pasties, and the irresistible heartbeat of the surdo. One of many Carnaval events happening this weekend is Cuica y Clave at FM Studios (5765 Lowell, off Stanford Avenue on the North Oakland/Emeryville border). Get a load of 2004's SF Carnaval royalty, King Victor Temple and Queen Micaela Mazzini, and enjoy dance performances by 2002's queen, Maisa Dukes, and Energia do Samba. This year's theme -- "Fiesta de Tambores -- All Life Moves in Rhythm" -- is all about the drumming, so expect plenty of that from Santa Cruz samba-fusion band Sambadà and the DJ da noite. There will be a bar and Caribbean kitchen, so go ahead and dance yourself into a heap on the floor. Doors 8 p.m. Tickets $10 from www.urbanevents.com. 21 and up. Info: cuicayclave2@yahoo.com or 510-451-6100 -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 5/27

Lost is Found

Scrungers unite!

It takes a special kind of dude -- one with a big heart and a certain style -- to come up with an idea, have everyone else do his legwork, and get famous for it without coming off as some kind of pimp. Davy Rothbart is that dude. For the last couple of years, Rothbart has been putting out Found magazine, compendiums of the "best lost, tossed, and forgotten items" sent in to him from all over. If you've ever been moved by a scrap rescued from the sidewalk, then the magazine -- and the new anthology of the same name -- are for you. From the inexplicable "explanation" of "the man dead with the sword in his back in the snow" left in a neighbor's front yard, to missives between down-on-their-luck parents and kids (from both, to both) in recovery, Found is a certain kind of shoegazer's dream. And the book includes interviews with fervent scrounges like Lynda Barry. Rothbart and his brother, finder adept Popcorn Pete, are having a Found party 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Cody's on Telegraph, with Found-inspired ditties, audience participation, and more. 510-845-7852. --Stefanie Kalem

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