Elizabeth Fox-Genovese: The media backlash against feminism started off as a long-deserved critique of the movement's excesses by veteran insiders. The torch was then wrestled away by right-wing pundits with scary "pro-family" agendas whose mission was to rewrite 20th-century American history by pretending that anti-discrimination laws, child-protection legislation, and even the right to vote were historical inevitabilities that came about regardless of feminist activists. Scholar Elizabeth Fox-Genovese falls somewhere in the middle of these camps. Her latest volley fired into the debate is the book Feminism is Not the Story of My Life: How Today's Feminist Elite Has Lost Touch with the Real Concerns of Women. The so-called "feminist elite" would love to be as influential and powerful as Fox-Genovese portrays them. The articulate, civil Fox-Genovese, like her more conservative counterparts, constructs a straw boogeywoman to obscure the subtler, more complex political realities of contemporary feminism. Her discussion, which is free, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in the Lynch Auditorium of the University of Dallas, 1845 E. Northgate Drive in Irving. Call 721-5111.
Denton Arts & Jazz Festival: The Denton Arts & Jazz Festival kicks off an orgiastic weekend of spring-themed festivals. Take your pick, since they are basically just excuses to walks around in shorts. The Denton Arts & Jazz Festival, however, is a biggie, with an expected attendance of 40,000 and a program that features 1,000 musicians performing on five different stages. Defined, as often is the entire city of Denton, by its jazz music, the festival features such North Texas stalwarts as Carlos Guedes, Joe McBride, the Dallas Jazz Orchestra, and jazzy cabaret-pop faves Little Jack Melody and His Young Turks. The Arts & Jazz Festival happens April 26, 6-9 p.m.; April 27, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; and April 28, noon-8 p.m. at the Denton Civic Center Park in downtown Denton. All performances are free. Call 991-9871.
Free Fall: Sandy Duncan as Marlene Dietrich? Sandy Duncan as a man? The native Texan, Emmy winner, three-time Tony nominee, and musical-stage veteran is probably tired of cracks about Wheat Thins everywhere she goes, so we'll resist and just say Duncan's debut as playwright intrigues us with its unexpected themes. Free Fall, co-written with Marc Alan Zagoran and directed by Duncan's longtime collaborator-partner Guy Stroman, is a one-woman showcase for Duncan, who pays tribute to performance greats Dietrich, Larry Hart, and Marilyn Miller with an invocation of their performances and their eras. Performances happen Thursday-Saturday at 8:15 p.m. through May 12 at the WaterTower Theatre at Addison Centre Theatre, 15650 Addison Road in Addison. Tickets are $20. Call 871-2787.
Spring Dance Fling: All skill levels in the discipline of dance--student, preprofessional, and professional--are represented in the Spring Dance Fling, which throws an even wider net across styles. Classical, jazz, tap, modern, ballet, and African media are all represented in a program that includes dancers from the Ngoma Mkristo African Drum and Dance Group, Dance Fusion, Ballet Jeunesse, Ozsoy Ballet, Amanda Stone Dancers, Cedar Valley College, and the University of North Texas. Performances happen April 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. at Cedar Valley College, 3030 N. Dallas Ave. in Lancaster. Tickets are $1-$3. Call 860-8160.
Townes Van Zandt: The Texas Music Connection and KNON-FM (89.3) join forces to revive a late, great institutional force in Texas music--"The Rock Creek Ranch Show." Ranger Randall Fields was a sympathetic ear and enthusiastic supporter of Texas musicians who didn't have a commercial contract but would go on to find major-label support and national acclaim--folks like Lyle Lovett, Darden Smith, and Robert Earl Keen. Tonight the "Rock Creek Ranch" is re-enacted with a performance that features once-and-future Flatlander Butch Hancock ("She Never Spoke Spanish to Me," "West Texas Waltz") and Townes Van Zandt, the latter being among the last of the great Texas singer-songwriters who keeps killing himself in the name of his art. A special announcement about KNON radio programs that support Texas music will be made prior to Butch Hancock's performance, which only makes sense since the evening's performances benefit KNON. The show kicks off at 6 p.m. at the venerable Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm St. Admission is $15. Call 747-4422.
Fine Arts Chamber Players: This latest installment of the Fine Arts Chamber Players' 4th Saturday series is a special one for the troupe--a commemoration of its 15th birthday. The April edition of 4th Saturday features Gregory Hustis, principal horn player for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Robert Davidovici, concertmaster for the Vancouver Symphony; and Simon Sargon, Southern Methodist University composer and musical director at Temple Emanu-El. They'll perform, among other pieces, Brahms' "Trio" for horn, violin, and piano, p. 40; and Sargon's "The Legacy." The show kicks off at 3 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free, but seating is limited. Call 520-9919.
ArtWalk '96: This year's Deep Ellum ArtWalk celebration coincides with Earth Day, the environmental observance that began 10 years ago and then attracted every publicity-hungry celebrity-liberal to its cause. Earth Day now enjoys about the same media heat as Bone Marrow Awareness Week, but the push to wisely manage our natural resources is more important than ever. Recycling igloos, environmental booths, and a tree giveaway by the Dallas Parks Foundation are included during the ArtWalk weekend. There will also be 65 Texas bands performing, as well as dancers, theatrical troupes, and poetry. Events happen day and night April 27 and 28 in the middle of Main Street in Deep Ellum. It's free. Call 653-1821.
Mandalay Poetry Circus: Anyone interested in Dallas poetry, whether a novice or a veteran audience member/performer, should skedaddle over to the Las Colinas Festival of Arts this weekend. The festival hosts the Mandalay Poetry Circus, two days of wordsmiths from all over Texas (and a couple other states) spewing wordcraft. Dallas-based biker-performance poet-Svengali-oracle Clebo Rainey hosts the readings, and the featured poet is Cincinnati-based Ralph La Charity, who performs his nationally acclaimed verse to his daughter's musical accompaniment. Events are planned April 27 and 28, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. The Mandalay Canal is located at Hwy. 144 and O'Connor Road in Irving. For information call 831-1881.
Great American Train Show: The Great American Train Show is not for grizzled veterans of the mythical American railway system, but for would-be grizzled veterans. The folks who collect model trains are, in many ways, the keepers of the flame that burns in the center of American transportation history. This is the largest touring model-railroad show in the country, featuring more than 10,000 trains on display and for sale. Professional collectors and humble admirers can mix and swap stories about the creation of their own Lilliputian transport systems. The show happens April 27 and 28, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Arlington Convention Center, 1200 Ballpark Way in Arlington. Admission is $5 for adults; kids younger than 12 get in free. Call (708) 834-0652.
Fort Worth Cinco De Mayo Festival: Annual Cinco De Mayo commemorations that dot the state are really celebrations of the oldest feel-good story in the book: The underdog whips the bully, David rubs Goliath's face in it, etc. (Recall: The Battle of Puebla was the event where a tiny Mexican army flattened the first invasion of a gargantuan French armada.) Fort Worth Cinco De Mayo Festival benefits Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth. Live music includes such Tejano veterans as Little Joe y La Familia, La Tropa F, and La Mafia. The gates open April 27 at 4:30 p.m. and April 28 at 3:30 p.m. at Marine Park, off North Main Street at 20th Street and Ellis Avenue in Fort Worth. Call (817) 834-4711.
Spring Holistic Fair: It's important to distinguish the holistic field from some of the dubious "disciplines" espoused by new-age charlatans. Many of the herb treatments and practices offered by holistic practitioners predate modern Western medicine by a couple thousand years, and any competition that makes bloodsucking pharmaceutical giants a little skittish (witness the effort to get some herbal treatments bounced from the market) ain't all bad. The Holistic Networker's Spring Holistic Fair features products, demonstrations, and services in homeopathy, aroma therapy, acupuncture, natural supplements, and more. The fair happens 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Addison Conference Centre, 15650 Addison Road in Addison. Admission is $5, but children younger than 12 and adults older than 65 get in free. For information call 403-0940.
Double Vision: A U-Haul would be needed to carry all the prizes and fellowships garnered by the four pros who participate in Double Vision, a program of Arts & Letters Live. Pulitzers, National Book Awards, National Book Critics' Circle Awards, Guggenheims, Prix de Romes--they're floating in spirit around the esteemed likes of Edward Hirsch, Richard Howard, Heather McHugh, and Naomi Shihab Nye. The title Double Vision tells the theme: Poets reflect on famous images by renowned photographers. The show kicks off at 5 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. The show is technically sold out, but $8 released tickets will be available 45 minutes before the show. Call 922-1219.
Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky: The Dallas Classic Guitar Society hosts the United States debut of a pair of British wonderboys who have charmed European audiences with their informative, down-to-earth introductions of the classical repertoire. It's this virtuosity combined with earthiness that distinguish Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky, who perform music that spans four centuries (from Elizabethan-era to contemporary composers) entirely from memory. They're also unafraid to tinker with the classics, transforming the 19th-century teacher-and-student guitar format into more equal duet arrangements. The performance happens at 8 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $12. Call 1-800-654-9545.
15th Annual Open Show: There's no shortage of elitism in the visual-art community, which is what makes the success of 500X Gallery's The Open Show so remarkable. The title says it all: Any artist can enter as many pieces as he or she wants (for an entry fee of $15 per item) and be assured (with some modest space limitations) the pieces will be displayed in the gallery's cavernous spaces. For 15 years, The Open Show has attracted a buzz comparable to highfalutin juried shows, based mostly on the surprisingly high quality of unknown artists. Participants know their works will be crammed together with those by others, so the modus operandi is "catch their eye." The show runs through May 5 at 500 Exposition, and it's free. Call 828-1111.