This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 


At 4 p.m., find out what makes a more modern American phenomenon when Dave Eshelman answers the question "What Makes Jazz Jazz?" as part of CSU's Fall 2003 Distinguished Lecture Series. Eshelman, director of the college's Jazz Studies program, will be joined by guitarist Randy Vincent, bassist Seward McCain, and drummer Alan Hall as he explores how musicians improvise melodies, and what should be listened for during a jazz performance. The lecture is free and takes place in the Oak Room of Cal State Hayward's Contra Costa campus library, 4700 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Concord. Call 925-602-6772 for info on the jazz talk. -- Stefanie Kalem


Tired of Bush? Not yet tired of anti-Bush rhetoric? Well then, step right up to and PEN Oakland's In Conversation with Political Authors, a modestly priced ($35) sit-down dinner where the audience can dine and chitchat with the authors, followed by a panel with those authors -- Iris Chang, Daniel Ellsberg, Dori Maynard, Ishmael Reed -- moderated by op-ed pundit Norman Solomon. Writers Floyd Salas and Gerald Nicosia are set to give opening and closing statements. From this cast of muckrakers, you should expect a ton of muck. Subjects to be covered: corporate crimes, deregulation, various adventurist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere; free trade and its discontents, etc. The hot winds begin to blow at 6 p.m. this evening at the Twist Restaurant in the Washington Inn, 495 10th Street in downtown Oakland. Tickets: 510-525-3948 or -- Kelly Vance


The picturesque Niles district in the Fremont hills is fun to stroll through anytime, but especially so during the holidays -- as in today's Christmas Art Walk, a free holiday arts fair with a bit of Niles old-time movie magic. Visit the "Lost Art Institute" and see artist Ed Frakes' flower paintings. Learn how to blow glass and make your own tree ornament. Into heavy metal? Create your own chain-mail jewelry with Renaissance Era-fancier Brett Corrie. Or you can dig live music by the Lost Arts Trio. The area has reportedly even been spruced up, with street improvement and restored building facades, which date back to the days when Charlie Chaplin and Broncho Billy made movies in the nearby canyon. Event maps are available at 37683 Niles Boulevard. The Art Walk begins at 5 p.m. and goes until 8. -- Kelly Vance


Four months ago, Sherman Austin was sentenced to a year in federal lockup for hosting, on his anarchist Web site, a link to another site that included bomb-making details. Austin is an African American from the Los Angeles suburb Sherman Oaks; the offending link was created by a white man from Orange County who escaped the situation unscathed. Kinda pisses you off, doesn't it? Channel that righteous indignation in a positive direction at AK Press' Benefit Show for Sherman Austin tonight. The LA band Saber Tooth Tiger will be there, as will Austin's mom, spoken-word artists Raw Knowledge, and other special guests. The AK Press warehouse is at 674-A 23rd St., Oakland. Learn more at and -- Stefanie Kalem


If you're like us, you'll strangle the next person who cracks a Gertrude Stein Oakland joke -- so don't look for any in this item about the Oakland Opera Theater's production of Four Saints in Three Acts, the avant-garde comic opera with libretto by essayist, poet, and erstwhile Oaktown resident Stein, and music by composer Virgil Thomson. Legend has it the two notorious bohos got together in Paris (over a beaker of absinthe?) and finally cranked out the finished work -- a pastiche of Stein/Alice B. Toklas/Left Bank '20s intellectual lore mingled with stories of various Spanish saints -- in a staging in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1934. Now, finally, it's Oakland's turn. The East Bay production, with stage direction by Tom Dean, choral direction by Jennifer Boesing, and a ten-piece orchestra directed by Deirdre McClure, features multimedia imagery to help bring it up to date. Four Saints in Three Acts runs through December 14 at the Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Tickets $15-$25 from -- Kelly Vance


Rocks: They're not just for pets anymore. If you find yourself drawn to certain stones, but don't know what to do about it, then Nancy Copeland's Gemstones 101 for Home, Health, and Happiness class just might be for you. Copeland, an "intuitive consultant," will teach anyone willing to pony up $40 (including $10 materials fee) all about the history of gemstone use, how to select your own personal stones, how to cleanse them, set an intention for their use, and more. The stones you'll be working with include quartz crystal, rose quartz, amethyst, citrine, aventurine, and obsidian, and everyone who participates will take home a bag of five stones they've chosen and cleansed. The class takes place at the Nova Studio, 24 W. Richmond Avenue, Point Richmond, from 7-9 p.m. You can register with PayPal at, or call 510-710-0914 to arrange other payment. -- Stefanie Kalem


Movie fans from El Cerrito and nearby neighborhoods are no doubt curious how plans are going for the Cerrito Theater. The once-forgotten but soon-to-be-revived movie house at 10070 San Pablo Avenue was acquired last year by the city of El Cerrito with plans to reopen it as the second picture-pub-pizza operation of Speakeasy, owners of Oakland's Parkway. So how's everything going? See for yourself this evening (7-9 p.m.), when the nonprofit Friends of the Cerrito Theater host an open house. Learn about restoration and construction projects, Speakeasy's plans for running the two-screen theater, proposed community event use for the theater, and how to help raise funds for the replacement of some of the Cerrito's historic elements, including lobby murals and the lost neon marquee. Info: -- Kelly Vance


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