Ninja Men 

Spinning Japanese in Oakland

SAT 7/3

Known as the "Far East Rulers," Japan's Mighty Crown Sound System is a fifteen-member deep dubplate collective headed up by chief selecta Sammi-T. The group, originally formed in 1991 in Yokohama, Japan, has extended its dominion to the West in the last thirteen years. During the mid-'90s, they established themselves as one of the hardest crews in the Brooklyn reggae scene, and have since taken the international sound clash scene by storm -- with the strength of samurai and the cunning of ninja. In fact, "Ninja Mi Ninja," a song by Courtney Melody, was their anthem for their victorious World Clash campaign in 1999, when they battled top sound systems (including Downbeat, Bass Odyssey, and Kilimanjaro), despite being somewhat unheralded going in. According to reggae Web site, "The depth of Crown's dub box caught many off guard." Mighty Crown's fluency in English, Japanese, and Jamaican patois were also cited as tools the members used to their definite advantage. In addition to their now-legendary club sets, the crew also has put out a series of mixtapes and CDs, ranging from contemporary hits by Sizzla, Bounty Killer, Vybz Cartel, Elephant Man, and Spragga Benz to classic dancehall from Dennis Brown, Sugar Minott, Super Cat, and Shelly Thunder. They also have been tapped by VP, America's preeminent reggae label, for their elite Selector's Choice series, which shows the respect they've earned from the reggae community.

These days, Mighty Crown are in high demand. They're well known to reggae fans in England and Germany, as well as in the Bay Area. Their initial local appearance last March at SF's Studio Z was so successful they returned to the same venue a scant three months later and pumped up the dancehall vibes to bashment bliss levels again. This Saturday, they make a rare East Bay appearance at iMusicast (5429 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). Bring your whistles and your most comfortable dancin' shoes -- it's gonna be a hot session, seen? Unlike most iMusicast shows, though, this one is 21 and up. 10 p.m., $17, -- Eric K. Arnold

7/1-7/31 Model Friends

Jeremy Kirsch knows a resource when he sees one. The East Bay photographer wanted to process the trivia, mythologies, and pop culture that had built up in his brain, and he used a camera and an extended circle of friends to do so. The result, Exponent of the Provocative: Recent Works , is up at Lanesplitter Pub (2033 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley). So while you're enjoying your Nada Ricotta slice, check out black-and-white portraits and tableaux of suppers in the underworld, sacrificial ceremonies, jungle princesses, witches, disco dancers, and skaters, all starring Kirsch's very human-looking pals, thus making their fantastical settings and get-ups all the more, well, provocative. Reception July 18 at 8 p.m. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 7/1

And Peter and Joey, Too

There currently are two Rat Pack stage shows playing London right now: the breezy songfest Rat Pack -- Live from Las Vegas, and the sleazy, myth-busting Rat Pack Confidential, based on the book by Shawn Levy. Whether you like your Dino, Frank, Sammy, et al on the tuneful or tawdry side, chances are you'll find plenty of both at the Conga Lounge's monthly First Church of Sinatra . First Thursday of the month, DJs Aaron and Giancarlo spin their swinging hearts out at the year-old tiki joint above Oakland's Cafe Rustica (5422 College Ave.), so slip into your best sharkskin and order yours on the rocks. No cover. 510-463-2681, -- Stefanie Kalem 7/1-7/31

Etching Quiet

In 1963, when thirty-year-old Tanaka Ryohei began to study etching under Furuno Yoshio, his subjects of choice -- trees, farmhouses, and other stately landscapes where humans are invisible -- were everywhere. These days they are far less prevalent, as is the quiet that Ryohei's etchings exude. His work has hung gently in the MOMA in New York, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, and the Cincinnati Art Museum; now you can see it at the Schurman Fine Arts Gallery, 1659 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday 2-6p.m., Sundays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be a reception on July 9 from 6-8 p.m. Call 510-524-0623. -- Stefanie Kalem

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