Night + Day: Calendar Picks for 5/14
I Left My Heart in a Donut Shop, 6pm
CounterPULSE - 1310 Mission at Ninth St.
Iggy Scam, famous among Mission District punks as a 'zine writer, musician, and activist, has grown older. He changed his name back to Erick Lyle, for example. He hasn't changed much else, though: His book, On the Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of the City, is pro-junkie, anti-cop, and maintains a number of other attitudes that would drive any self-appointed responsible adult into a frothing fury. Drawing material from Lyle's 'zine, Scam ("The Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt's Donuts Story" is reprinted in its elegiac entirety), as well as the infamous Tenderloin newspaper, the Turd-Filled Donut, the book chronicles life in San Francisco in the 1990s from the perspective of a welfare-getting, needle-exchanging, SRO-hotel inhabiting punk. It's not your typical dot-com story, to put it mildly. It's not your typical self-involved wasteoid memoir, either. Lyle's writing is brilliant, as sparkly as broken glass and besotted with a deeply egalitarian, big-hearted love for a San Francisco most people don't even like to look at. Special bitterness is reserved for Gavin Newsom's "Care Not Cash" billboard campaign, in which (in case you don't remember) bitchy-looking yuppies held cardboard signs bearing anti-homeless slogans. Lyle's the guy who spent a little time replacing the intended messages with this kind of thing: "I am a totally selfish asshole who doesn't care if homeless people die as long as it doesn't happen on my doorstep and no tourists accidentally see it."
The book's release party is huge, and features guest speakers Paul Boden of the S.F. Coalition on Homelessness, Antonio Roman-Alcala of Alemany Farm, and Mary Howe of S.F. Needle Exchange; art by Sara Thustra, Ivy Jeanne, and Heather Renee Russ; and music by Shotwell, the Judy Experience, and Black Rainbow. --Hiya Swanhuyser
YLEM Forum: Area 2881 Art Robotics Studio, 7pm
Studio 2881 - 2881 23rd St. at Florida
In his ongoing robotics art project, Serpentine Robot Arm with Tendon Transmission, Carl Pisaturo is attempting the impossible: "the artful handling of wine glasses." He's gunning for "animal-like grace" but will settle for "robust, reasonable showability." His lamp-sized Orbit Machines already have maximum showability, what with the "rotation on 2 orthogonal axes" that causes colored LED lights to spin faster than 100 m.p.h. Pisaturo, who comes to art with science degrees and a job as an applications engineer at Stanford in his back pocket, makes robotic wonders that have a taste of the carnival funhouse. He's also made some modern strides in stereo photography, that old technology that offered the world's first 3-D views, by creating his own curious looking machines. At YLEM Forum: Area 2881, Art Robotics Studio, he opens the doors to his S.F. workspace for some show-and-tell, giving the details of everything from "electric nervous systems" to "the mysteries of LED pulsing strobe lights." --Michael Leaverton
Son of Rambow
Embarcadero Center Cinema
In the 1980s, three Mississippi 12-year-olds famously spent six years filming a shot-for-shot VHS remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The misfit heroes of writer-director Garth Jennings's whimsical comedy Son of Rambow - two enterprising British schoolkids inspired by the early Sylvester Stallone vehicle First Blood, feel less kinship to Indiana Jones, the keeper of covenants, than to John Rambo, the army of one. All but abandoned by his parents and mistreated by his caddish older bro, the conniving Lee (Will Poulter) takes a page from Rambo and passes along the hurt to someone else: dreamy, repressed tyke Will Proudfoot (the elfin Bill Milner), whose religion makes the sign of the cross against demon cinema. Together, the two muster a homemade back lot to shoot the titular epic; a project that ultimately involves runaway Jeeps, goofy stunts, and a glamorously bored French exchange student (Jules Sitruk) who staves off ennui long enough to kick some ninth-grade ninja asses. Jennings finds a tone that's more winsome and less desperately wacky than his film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, especially as the movie-within-a-movie mutates into quirkily revealing psychodrama. More a modest pleasure than a rousing success, the movie nonetheless captures a young cinephile's delight in finding a film that seems to express or coalesce some inchoate yearning, including a yen to share. --Jim Ridley