This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 21

When singer/songwriter Mokai was a child in suburban New England, the nearby forest that served as his playground was bulldozed to build more McHousing. He never quite snapped back. The loss of his home-away-from-home sparks much of his songwriting, inspiring him to wrap jazzy, jammy, bluesy structures around earthly laments, tales of ordinary folks, and the human struggle in general. His love of terra firma informs his extramusical pursuits, as well: The guitarist, whose playing style has been compared to Michael Hedges, initiated some of the first-ever direct actions to save the ancient woodlands of California and Oregon. Tonight at La Peña (3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley), Mokai celebrates the release of his debut CD, Unearthed, which features contributions by Todd Sickafoose, Mark Growden, Erika Luckett, and many more. Call 510-849-2568. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 22

If you're hungry for some house music but need to put something in your stomach, then the long-running Aural Confection event has got your number. Each Thursday at Oasis Restaurant and Bar (135 12th St., Oakland), eConspiracy and bassline proudly offer a "straight-up-no-shit-downtown-o-town-deep-ass-bar-b-q-house-party," with weekly guest DJs joining the resident selectors between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Past nights have boasted the talents of Sharon Buck, Timdawg, Paul Rosas, Mes (Simma Down, Aural Confection), Naomi Austin (Just Because, Aural Confection), Hesohi (Roam Recordings, Imperial Dub), and Chad Mitchell and JP Soul, both of Roam Recordings. $5 gets you inside to enjoy the full bar, tasty vittles, and outdoor patio lounge and dance floor. Call 510-763-0404 for venue info. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 23

French filmmaker Tony Gatlif turned his success with Latcho Drom into an industry. Ever since, he's been the film world's number-one authority on the Roma (Gypsy) people, gleaned from his experience as a manouche (French Gypsy) and from the vast folklore of the wandering tribes. That folklore comes blazingly to life in Latcho Drom (1994), the dialogue-less, tune-filled history of the Roma, related as a marvelous musical tracing of their centuries-long journey from Rajasthan in India all the way to Andalusia in Spain, with stops in Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, and France along the way. If you've never seen it, you owe it yourself to drop everything and come to the Long Haul (3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) tonight at 8. -- Kelly Vance

SAT 24

La Cage aux Folles holds a unique place in the canon of musical theater, having been originally inspired by a movie (Jean Poiret's 1978 French confection) and then spun into another, 1996's The Birdcage. It also occupies a practically peerless position in that it's simultaneously cockle-warming, over the top, socially conscious, and freakin' hilarious. Head to the Glenview Performing Arts Center (1318 Glenfield Ave., Oakland) to take in the tale of Albin and Georges, two middle-aged lovers running a trannie nightclub in St. Tropez, and the emotional and farcical hurdles they jump trying to disguise their lifestyle for the sake of their son's future in-laws. These are the last shows of the run, but both the 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances offer intimate table seating and complimentary wine. Call 510-531-0511 for tickets and details. -- Stefanie Kalem

SUN 25

The Oakland A's take on the high-flying Kansas City Royals today at 1:05 p.m. It should be a thrilling game between two contending American League teams, but that's not why carloads of women will descend on Network Associates Coliseum. They know, as you now do, that today is Barry Zito "Cy Young" Bobblehead Day, in which the first 15,000 fans to enter will receive a jaunty little doll modeled on Zito, arguably the toughest pitcher -- and just as arguably the swingin'-est bachelor -- in the league. Pepsi is giving away the bobbleheads to honor Zito's selection as the Cy Young Award winner for 2002, a season in which he won 23 games. Grab those tickets from 510-762-2277 or -- Kelly Vance

MON 26

Landscape photographer Ben Garfinkle spent 30 Years in the Wilderness, 1973-2003, and he has a few pictures to show for it. The East Bay photog, who studied at UC Berkeley under William Garnett and fell under the spell of Ansel Adams and Brett Weston, captured some of the West's most exhilarating vistas with his 5" x 7" and 8" x 10" view cameras, and his current show, in the offices of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in downtown Oakland (110 8th St. in the Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter), exhibits some sixty of his best. "I 'see' things that don't exist and the photograph lets me share that vision with others," Garfinkle says. The show also includes images shot in Alaska and Hawaii. It runs through September 5, and can be viewed every weekday. Info: 510-464-7700. -- Kelly Vance

TUE 27

Margaria Fichtner of the Miami Herald compares the nameless narrator of Lê Thi Diem Thúy's The Gangster We Are All Looking For to Esperanza Cordero of Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street. Both characters speak from the margins of society, sticking plucky toes into the waters of feminism, sexual and emotional maturity, and gender politics. Plucked from the sea with her father and four other refugees from Vietnam -- who become her new uncles -- the precocious heroine begins a new life in San Diego, haunted by her absent mother and drowned brother, listening to the voices of inanimate objects and seeing the world through a magically disconnected haze. The author reads from the book -- actually a string of five spare, stand-alone vignettes -- tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Cody's (2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley). Call 510-845-7852. -- Stefanie Kalem


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