Smartass Club 

Rock+Politics='80s

SAT 4/24

There's nothing like a little righteous indignation to get you dancing. Less than a month after the big-name Punk Voter tour touched down at the Greek, five (mostly) locals hit Berkeley's 924 Gilman, aiming for agitation. Bands Against Bush headliners Replicator are no strangers to political action -- vocalist and guitarist Conan Neutron spearheaded last year's late-night BART campaign. And, much as the current administration seems like an '80s flashback, tonight's lineup is something like a John Hughes movie. Philly spazz-rockers An Albatross would be the sophisticated kid who just moved into town, wearing eyeliner and toting a keyboard. Greenlight the Bombers would be the intense, macho ladies' man (their guitarist toured the world as the Donnas' drum tech). The Yellow Press would be the clean-cut varsity player; Tenebre, the goth kid who works at the local video store (they're named for an 1987 arthouse horror flick by Dario Argento); and Replicator would be the bespectacled smartass who saves the day. 8 p.m., $5, all ages. -- Stefanie Kalem

4/21-4/27

Lit Happens

Alice Walker's new novel is about sex and drugs, but not in a party way. Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart explores the renunciation of sex and the ingestion of drugs as a spiritual pathway. Riparian pilgrimages and Amazonian and Hawaiian shamans further enhance the obviosity quotient. Walker's at Barnes & Noble Oakland (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... Klezmer king Gerry Tenney performs "Book Song," his musical revue based on kids' books, at the Oakland Public Library in honor of National Library Week (Thu., 10:30 a.m. Golden Gate Branch; 3:30 p.m. Brookfield Branch.). ... Ivy-League-guy-turned-Oakland-firefighter Zac Unger's new memoir Working Fire is funny, fierce, and fearless, too. Curry his favor at Orinda Books (Thu., 4 p.m.). ... Hear Booker Prizewinner A.S. Byatt read from her chilling, thrilling new collection Little Black Book of Stories at Cody's Fourth Street (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Published in always-tasteful Berkeley, Glenn Murray's Walter the Farting Dog is America's best-ever-selling picture book. Murray reads at Rakestraw from his sequel to the gassy classic, Walter the Farting Dog -- Trouble at the Yard Sale (Fri., 10 a.m.). ... Pico Iyer, reigning sage of sojourners' satori, reads at Easy Going from In Sun After Dark, his new collection of essays about interfacing with Bolivian prisoners, Leonard Cohen, the Dalai Lama, and other fellow travelers (Fri., 7:30 p.m.). ... The beatnik bard once rented a Berkeley cottage at 1624 Milvia St.; tantric antics ensued. The cottage is long gone, but the Arts Magnet school across the street boasts an Allen Ginsberg Memorial Poetry Garden, scene of the Fifth Annual Open Mike Poetry Reading (for details, e-mail srosenba@socrates.berkeley.edu) (Sat., 2 p.m.). ... How can changing dirty diapers lead to enlightenment? Ask spiritual counselor Jacqueline Kramer, who reads from Buddha Mom: The Path of Mindful Mothering at Black Oak (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

WED 4/21

Dope Policies

Hot on the heels of 4/20 comes an exploration of the heavier side of illegal substances. Civil Liberties and the Drug War is an ACLU forum on US drug policy and citizen rights. From a fruitless drug raid on African-American students in a South Carolina high school, to the latest amendment to the RAVE Act, the panel of academics and experts will sweat the details and flesh out the big picture today from 5 to 8 p.m. on Lower Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley. Oh, and just to make it interesting, there will be hip-hop before and after by Why? (right) and Hieroglyphics. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRi 4/23

Sweatin' Stars

This weekend, the Starry Plough gets a different kind of starry -- smacked-in-the-head-with-a-mic-stand, sweating-whiskey, seeing-stars kinda starry. L.A. trio the Flash Express supply the Stoogey meat sandwiched between hyperactive surf-o-nauts, the Phenomenauts, and the all-girl psychobilly outfit Thee Merry Widows. 3101 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, 9 p.m. All-ages, $8, 510-841-2082. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 4/25

Peek Over the Walls

Take the Secret Garden Tour

Too often, shrouds of tangled jasmine and wisteria or a high redwood fence keep our prying eyes from the gardens of our neighbors. And rightfully so, if it's privacy that they're longing for. But wouldn't it be nice to be invited into the places where nature meets fantasy in the form of exceptional design? That's what the Park Day School was thinking when it came up with Secret Gardens of the East Bay, a self-guided tour of nine private gardens in the East Bay, where professionals like Ron Lutsko, Keeyla Meadows, and Jana Olson Drobinsky, owner of Ohmega Salvage, flaunt their most valuable trade secrets. Check out Olson Drobinsky's "A Creek Runs Through It," which incorporates recycled objects into a magical, whimsical garden and achieves a truly modern vibe. Or Lutsko's witty transplant of native Californian plants into a formal design plan, in "Lutsko's Natives." All are sure to inspire your own crop of ideas. With all the choices at your local nursery, however, landscaping can become a dizzying task. Take this opportunity to find what works for your plot, then begin to realize your goals at the Garden Marketplace, where some thirty merchants are on hand to meet your gardening needs. Open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the marketplace (on school grounds) provides the perfect backdrop for a lunch break. Outdoor workshops take place hourly from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Garden Tour takes place Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets and info: ParkDaySchool.org/secretgardens or 510-653-6250. 370 43rd St., Oakland. -- Justine Nicole

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