May 9: What it's like to fight fires in America's arson capital and other San Francisco events

Who’s in town

  • Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s chief of child protection, speaks at the World Affairs Council. “Protecting Children in Times of Crisis” is the theme. [7 p.m., World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter St., S.F.]


  • Sister Helen Prejean: The author, death-penalty abolitionist and subject of the film “Dead Man Walking” speaks. [7 p.m., Temple Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., S.F.; RSVP:]
  • Jeremy Scahill: The author of “Dirty Wars” examines the degree to which we are willing to compromise the democratic process in the name of warfare and justice. [6:30 p.m., Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F.]
  • Joy DeGruy: The sociologist and author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” discusses the residual impact of trauma on African descendants in the Americas. [7 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin St., S.F.]

Literary events

  • James Kelman: The Scottish literary star discusses “Mo Said She Was Quirky,” a novel. [7:30 p.m., Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., S.F.]</li>
  • Andrew Lam: The journalist talks about “Birds of Paradise Lost,” his debut short-story collection. [6 p.m., Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, S.F.]
  • Poetry night: Thursdays at Readers series holds its weekly poetry reading. Martin Hickle and Maria Medina are the featured poets this week. [6:30 p.m., Building C, Fort Mason Center, Buchanan Street and Marina Boulevard, S.F.]
  • Fiamma Montezemolo and Josh Kun: The editors of “Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border” celebrate the book’s release. [7 p.m., City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave., S.F.]

At the colleges

  • Greek literature: Translator Karen Emmerich discusses the changing forms of Greek literary works, both in the “original” Greek and in translation. [Noon, Humanities Building, Room 129, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave., S.F.]

At the public library

  • Great Teen Book Swap: Teens receive free books with the understanding that they will give the library a bookmark review by the end of the month. [3 p.m., Parkside Branch, 1200 Taraval St., S.F.]
  • State voting: Evening featuring “California Crack-Up” co-author Joe Matthews examines the benefits and risks of direct-democracy efforts in California. [6 p.m., Koret Auditorium, Main Library, 100 Larkin St., S.F.]

Firefighting Documentary

  • Firefighters in America’s arson capital of Detroit are buying their own toilet paper, duct taping their boots and haven’t had a raise in 10 years. Screening for one night only at the Roxie Theater, “Burn” takes an unflinching look at Engine Company 50 on Detroit’s east side. [7 p.m., 3117 16th St., S.F.]

Local activities

  • Folks with spokes: Tens of thousands of people are expected to pedal to the office on this annual Bike to Work Day. “Energizer” stations across San Francisco feature free coffee, snacks and mechanics. [All day, citywide;]
  • Human-rights awards: Global Exchange presents its Human Rights Awards Gala. Honorees include linguist, philosopher, writer and activist Noam Chomsky. [6:30 p.m., Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St., S.F.]
  • Oyster fundraiser: The Aquarium of the Bay presents “Bubbles & Bivalves,” an oyster event benefiting the Watershed Project. Featured guest: “Twain’s Feast” author Andrew Beahrs. [7 p.m., Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, S.F.]
  • Credo: The risotto with asparagus, Meyer lemon and pistachio is recommended today. Also look for the pan-seared salmon, with savoy spinach, cipollini and salsa verde. [360 Pine St., S.F.; (415) 693-0360]


  • Symphony concert: The San Francisco Symphony performs works by Beethoven and Adams. Guest artists include tenor Michael Fabiano. [8 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.]


  • Closing night: The San Francisco International Film Festival closes today. “Before Midnight” (7 p.m., Castro Theatre) is the closing-night feature. A party follows the screening. []


  • Dance theater: Experimental choreographer Mary Armentrout presents “With and Alone,” an evening of new dance theater. [8 p.m., Garage, 715 Bryant St., S.F.]


  • Good vibes: NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences presents “Feel the Music NightLife,” an event exploring the link between sound and emotion. Guests include musicologist Steffen Schmidt. [6 to 10 p.m., 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.]

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