The Abyss 

No phone. Just the blues

SAT 2/5

There are two kinds of bars dotting the surface of this big blue marble: the hip and the dive. Hip bars play host to red-hot bands, underground acts, and the next big thing. Dive bars offer up ice-cold blues, a regular cast of characters, and the same band every weekend. Ms. Kim's Backyard, between 24th and 25th streets on Telegraph in Oakland, requires a barometric chamber upon exit. Ms. Kim has been running clubs and bars for most of her life, and she long ago gave up the glitz and glamour of the pelvic thrust for the cozy atmosphere of her own personal deep-sea submersible. She likes to say that her bar is like her living room, and she expects her patrons to treat it as such. As a result, while visiting this bastion of dank and drink, you may see her expelling some undesirables with her typical tough-mama attitude.

But don't let that frosty exterior fool you. Ms. Kim has a heart of gold, and she is quite possibly the only grandmother consistently pouring drinks in Oakland. She's like a mother to her regulars, preparing sandwiches and nachos on game day, and pushing dollar bills into the jukebox so her swill-children (some of who are older than she is) can pick out the tunes they desire. The mood here is set largely by this musical machine -- it's filled with musicians blue enough to rival a clear California sky. So it's only natural that Ms. Kim would ensnare a blues band to play her joint on Saturday nights. For the meager sum of $5, guests can bathe themselves in the southern sounds of Alabama Express. Toward the end of the night, Country Pete comes on to finish it off with some deeply depressing songs about his lady leaving him.

With four more years of Shrubbery facing this decidedly blue state, there's no better place than a dark, dank, blue-collar bar for hiding out and escaping the big W. And if you can expect to tap your feet to the sympathetic tones played at 9 p.m. every Saturday night at Ms. Kim's Backyard while nursing a Jim Beam, well, maybe the next four years won't be so painful after all.

Ms. Kim's Backyard. No phone. No Web site. Just booze and tunes. 2424 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Bands start at 9 p.m. every Saturday night. $5 cover. -- Alex Handy


4ever Yrs

Teen angst, fully installed

Althea Thauberger obviously had a screwed-up adolescence, but she made it pay off. Witness the Vancouver artist's film-to-video installation at the Berkeley Art Museum, A Memory Lasts Forever, which spins themes of teenage anxiety, romantic longings, self-absorption, and gender confusion into a walk-through story of how tough it is to be young and female -- inspired by the artist's own life. Thauberger's show opens this Sunday, and she gives a gallery talk the same day at 4 p.m. Through April 10. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 2/5

Dragged Up

The Bench & Bar is known for its drag shows and Latin flavor, but this Saturday will be special. For Center Stage Divas , the staff and clients of Oakland's Center for AIDS Services will step up to benefit the nonprofit. "They wanted to find a way to support us, since we support them," says the center's volunteer and events coordinator, Simona Fino. The party starts at 5 p.m. with appetizers, and then, about an hour later, the show begins, with approximately ten drag performers -- including Walter Kelly, celebrating his fiftieth birthday -- doing their lip-synching thing on the Bench & Bar stage. 5-9 p.m., $10. 2111 Franklin St. 510-444-2266, -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 2/3

The Next Wave

In 2000's Manifesta, writers Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards (left) defined third-wave feminism for the world at large, cheering a new generation to forge a fierce new identity. In their new book, Grassroots: A Field Guide to Feminist Activism, the pair show the third wave where to go from there, offering instruction on how to make your voice heard on everything from sweatshop labor to gay marriage. Hear what else they have to say at Cody's on Telegraph, 7:30 p.m. Thursday. -- Stefanie Kalem


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