This Week's Day-by-Day Picks 

WED 13 For self-conscious Western speed demons, the Buddhist pursuit of samadhi (concentration) is often a tough one to grok. This is why meditation groups can be so helpful. Not only does focusing inward in a room full of others shame you into sitting still; it can also be like swinging two bats in the on-deck circle -- once you can do it in a room full of likeminded folks, doing it alone should be a snap. And if your idea of like-minded is somewhat queer, consider dropping into the weekly LGBT Meditation Group, grounded in the Theravadin Buddhist tradition. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. with a forty-minute sitting, followed by a dharma talk and discussion. There is no fee, and the group meets at 351 Santa Clara Ave., near the Grand Lake Theatre, in Oakland; if you have a zafu or cushion, please bring it. E-mail joan or visit -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 14 Back in 1998, in "A Renaissance Revolutionist's Plea," Bay Area poet Mike McGee wished for ... a world where skies are gray when they need to be/When autumn eats summer/I want the sun in due time/When spring pounces on winter and shoves it up a depressed poet's ass/I want my revolution. There's a good chance McGee has seen some of his revolution, having won a grip of poetry slam prizes in 2003 and hauled his "stand-up poetry" across the continent. Tonight he'll be the featured guest at the Oakland(ish) Slam Series, which happens the second Thursday of each month through June. Sign up to compete for cash and a chance to participate in the national slam at 7:30 p.m.; show is at 8:30. 411 2nd Street, Oakland, near Jack London Square. $5. 510-451-2677. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 15 "Take the 'A' Train." "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." "Stompin' at the Savoy." If the songs don't get you, the zoot suits and fancy footwork will -- starting tonight, the Black Repertory Group mounts a lavish production of Loften Mitchell's Bubbling Brown Sugar, a jive-jumpin' trip back to Harlem's golden years. BRG's kaleidoscopic production, directed by N. Bruce Williams, features a six-piece band led by local sax legend Jules Broussard, and a seventy-strong cast. The show bubbles over at 8 p.m. Fridays and 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, through May 14. Tickets $12 general admission, $7 for seniors and kids, $10 for students, and $25 for the gala opening and closing nights. 3201 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-652-2120. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 16 Bob Dron Harley-Davidson on Hegenberger Road in Oakland has hosted Hells Angel Sonny Barger for a barbecue and book party, so it must be time for the flip side of the coin -- the Police Invitational Pursuit Competition and Oakland Police Department Drill Team Exhibition. Which means one hell of a lot of cops will be swarming all over Dron's motorcycle dealership today. First, officers from police departments in the Bay Area compete on a closed obstacle course in a hot-pursuit simulation. Then the OPD's Motorcycle Drill Team displays fancy maneuvers of a controlled variety. Admission is free, but refreshments will be sold to benefit the drill team's trip to Washington, DC, for National Police Week festivities. The fun begins at 11 a.m. at 200 Hegenberger Rd., Oakland. 510-635-0100. -- Kelly Vance

SUN 17 The Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park is devoted to the native plants of California and, as the Golden State is a big 'un, the garden is divided into ten sections (and three subsections) representing the flora of the state's seaside mountains, thirsty foothills, coastal bluffs, inner valleys, and alpine zones, and two kinds of desert. Wandering the ten-acre plot is pleasant enough, but there's only so much bending down to read ID tags that a person can do before your head starts swimming with something other than histamines. That's why the Friends of the RPBG offers free docent tours every Sunday at 2 p.m., with each tour introducing participants to a new facet of the garden, from mosses to mushrooms, wild lilacs to creepy crawlers. Call 510-845-4116 or e-mail to find out this week's focus. -- Stefanie Kalem

MON 18 After the masterpiece Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X is probably Spike Lee's second-best film -- a completely involving portrait of America and its Number One Curse, racial bigotry, as lived and breathed by a hustler-turned-holy-man called Red, the man we know today as Malcolm X. Director Lee wisely controls his anger, chooses his jabs and haymakers carefully, and lets Denzel Washington carry the load, in one of that actor's finest performances. No wonder the programmers at Diablo Valley College's film society got hold of this film. It should be required viewing for every man, woman, and child in the United States. And it's free, like all the film soc's screenings. Malcolm X screens this evening at 7 p.m. in the Forum room of the library building at DVC, 321 Golf Club Rd., Pleasant Hill. Park in Lot 3 off Viking Drive, $1. 925-687-4445. -- Kelly Vance

TUE 19 The saga of Jim Jones, People's Temple, and the Jonestown massacre is one of those weird tales from the old days that seems almost unreal today. How did it happen that everyone from poor parishioners to vote-hungry politicians was seduced by this strange figure in outlandish sunglasses? And don't even mention Kool-Aid. Stage director Leigh Fondakowski, actor-writers Greg Pierotti and Margo Hall, and writer Stephen Wangh, creators of The Laramie Project, try to make sense of it all in their new play, The People's Temple. The world-premiere production, directed for the Berkeley Rep by Fondakowski, has its last preview performance tonight (8 p.m.) at the Rep's Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley. The show officially opens Thursday and runs through May 29. Preview tickets are $39; opening night, $50. or 510-647-2949. -- Kelly Vance


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