Phyllis Schlafly vs. Sarah Weddington: What causes a democracy's national mood to shift from left to right, liberal to conservative? While many politicians on both sides like to appear accessible by defining themselves as moderates resting squarely in the center, the moderate voting bloc doesn't change the American political landscape. Instead, it follows the lead taken by the extremists, the angry storm troopers of morality who can scream the loudest with newspaper headlines and CNN headshots. Think of America as a table of constantly bickering fringe activist stereotypes--hateful, narrow-minded Christian fundamentalists; puritanical, dogma-spouting feminists, etc.--and you'll have a pretty accurate picture of the Mount Olympus of U.S. culture. We are the soldiers who cast our weapons (votes) in the battles which they stir up. The University of Texas at Arlington hosts a debate about women's issues between two extremely high-ranking officers from both camps. Phyllis Schlafly is the uber-den mother, forever barging in, robe flying and cold cream gleaming, when those naughty girls start playing feminist games. Schlafly was an early opponent of ERA and the gay rights movement, but some of the wind was taken out of her sails when her grown son was outed two years ago. Sarah Weddington was Norma McCorvey's attorney in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, and has since come to devote most of her time to lecturing on women's rights, particularly reproductive issues. She and McCorvey are probably the two people most despised today by radical anti-abortion groups--a few of whom could be considered dangerous--for her insistence on a woman's unconditional control of her own body. Schlafly and Weddington duke it out at 7:30 pm in the Bluebonnet Ballroom of the E.H. Hereford University Center of the University of Texas at Arlington. Tickets are $3-$5. For information call (817) 273-2963.
Ray Bradbury: What other tribute can you offer Ray Bradbury except to say his children's books are indistinguishable from his serious fiction? In other words, Bradbury has contributed the single most ageless voice to the canon of great 20th century American literature. His prose leaps from fanciful daydreams to serious meditations on the interconnected cycles of life and death, often in the same novel or short story, and always remains sweetly fascinated with what he sees. For the last decade he's downshifted to a lower speed, working on adapting his works for the musical stage, animated film, and his USA Cable Network show The Ray Bradbury Television Theater. You get the sense, in recent interviews with the author, that he's finally letting himself fall back into his enormous body of work like it was a warm bath. Having written a sophisticated book for the grade-school set about the death rituals of ancient cultures (The Halloween Tree) and a fairy tale for adults about the horrors of aging (Something Wicked This Way Comes), Bradbury needs the relaxation. He'll be emphasizing his science fiction side when he gives a presentation entitled "The Great Years Ahead" at 7:30 pm in the Fine Arts Auditorium of Texas Wesleyan University, East Rosedale Ave & Wesleyan in Fort Worth. The presentation is free, but you must have a ticket to be admitted. For information call (817) 531-8500.
Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth Fall Repertory Concert: Fighting to share the same narrow dance slice from the Dallas-Fort Worth arts patron pie with the newly expanded Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth fights valiantly in its fifth year to stay afloat and still attract top dance artists from all over the country, with a particular emphasis on the Southwest. They perform their Fall Repertory Concert with two guests--Sharir Dance Co. from Austin and solo performer Gus Solomons, Jr. They'll perform a total of seven works, including two world premieres--Sine--To Wood For Your Courage is dedicated to a Sharir company member who died of AIDS in 1994 and is performed both by the Austin troupe and CD/FW; Jazz Cafe, an original work by Eric Salisbury, Andrea Beckham, and co-artistic directors of CD/FW set to the music of jazz composer Bill Evans. Also performed is the CD/FW favorite Echoes and Dervishes, a piece by Sharir Associate Artistic Director Jose Luis Bustamente based on the movements of the Melevi order of dervishes. Performances happen November 18, 8 pm & November 19, 2 & 8 pm in the Ed Landreth auditorium of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Tickets are $6-$20. For more information call (817) 335-9000.
The Dallas Video Festival: Turn to the Observer film section for an in-depth preview of the offerings at this year's Dallas Video Festival, but before you do that, consider what you'll be missing if you don't attend--the chance to see new documentary, narrative, and multi-form video work by national artists which is too smart for most commercial TV networks and too controversial for the Public Broadcasting System. Indeed, PBS would seem to be the natural place for this type of provocative fare, at least if you go back and read the statement of purpose from its inception in the '60s. But that broadcast venue, along with other public entities like the National Endowment for the Arts, knows who enjoys legislative muscle in Congress these days--hard-core right-wingers who shave arts funding by three percent here and six percent there, all the while waiting for the right moment of voter apathy to kill taxpayer support for the arts outright. Sound like so much liberal paranoia? Just consider that Congress is currently controlled by the party whose most powerful wing counts the two Pats (Buchanan and Robertson) among its leaders. Also remember that the Dallas Video Festival couldn't happen without support from the NEA, the city, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Now, pick yourself up off the floor and hurry with all godspeed to Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood, which hosts the Festival on November 17, 7-10 pm; Fri, 7-11 pm; Sat, noon-11 pm; Sun, noon-9:30 pm. Tickets are $6-$22. Call 651-8888.