Old-Fashioned Fourth: The venerable downtown Dallas historical site known as Old City Park advertises its Fourth of July celebration as "first on the Fourth for families." This constellation of consonants is correct only insofar as the city of Dallas goes (see Arlington Parade below). Should you be off work today, and the kids in your care are bellowing for a proper Fourth--and don't require beer to survive each brain-flaying moment of family togetherness--head on over to the Park. Its Old-Fashioned Fourth features live demonstrations of crafts from the pioneer days of Texas (as well as the turn-of-the-century "Victorian" era that seemed to bypass the Southwest altogether). There's also a full-dressed Native American interpreter to ensure historical even-handedness, a parade, a hay ride, live music, and square dancing. Events happen 10 a.m.-4p.m. at Old City Park, 1717 Gano. Tickets are $2-$4. Call 421-5141.
31st-Annual Arlington Fourth of July Parade: Who says Arlington is just an ambitious suburb of Fort Worth? For 31 years now, Arlington's city parents have celebrated a Fourth of July parade that invokes the nostalgic best of mythological Small Town America with the drawing power that a major Texas city boasts. Indeed, at press time the 31st-Annual Arlington Fourth of July Association Parade had notched more than 150 entries for its procession, including every single high-school band from the Arlington area and many of the drill teams and cheerleaders from those schools. You can expect business-, government-, and private-sponsored floats, antique and classic cars, horses, clowns and other street performers, and a lot more. A street celebration begins after the procession; the parade kicks off at 9 a.m. at Mitchell and Cooper in downtown Arlington.
The Big Knife: The Richardson Theatre Centre presents the revival of a little-known play by a little-discussed playwright who was the most critically acclaimed theater artist of the '30s and '40s. Although he may have possessed the hair of George Kauffman, Clifford Odets was more or less being aped by John Turturro in the Coen Brothers' Barton Fink. With his odes to the struggle of the little guy (and girl), Odets rescued the American theater from its escapist preoccupations. Unfortunately, his muckraking moralism and working-class condescension haven't aged well, which explains why the Richardson Theatre Centre performs his latest as a campy, soapy melodrama. The Big Knife is a sordid tale of a screen actor who slowly disintegrates through perennial Hollywood temptations. Performances happen Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. through July 27 at 718 Canyon Creek Square behind the Tom Thumb in Richardson. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 699-1130.
First Friday Stargazing: If gigantic bursts of light in the night sky is your way of celebrating American Independence Day, the "First Friday Stargazing" summer series at Richland College should easily light your fire. The Planetarium show that precedes the actual stargazing is known as "Richland Skies," and it's a large re-creation of the planets and stars you'd find in the raw sky this night. What you'll be seeing through the telescopes provided afterward by Richland College astronomers will be a spectacle considerably more beautiful than that provided by the incendiary doodads sold by East Texas roadsides, and stars--although very hot--have yet to set a single wood-shingled roof on fire. Any and all "First Friday Stargazing" events are dependent upon the good will of the weather, needless to say. Performances happen at 8 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. in the Planetarium of Sabine Hall, Richland College, 12800 Abrams Rd. It's free, but a small donation is appreciated and seating is limited. For info call 238-6013.
Pussy, Pussy, Pussy: It's a measure of how far sixth-grade humor has permeated civilized adult society at large that we must rush to provide a hasty explanation of the above title. "Pussy, Pussy, Pussy" is the name of a legendary single produced by North Texas bluesman Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery, who toiled in a medium which loved to sneak bawdy double entendres past the "adult, civilized society" (read "white people") for whom black practitioners often performed. Still, it's not the intention of the venerable Light Crust Doughboys to insult any potential ticket buyer. The fact that Montgomery himself was a Doughboy makes the reference that much more defensible. Come see "Pussy, Pussy, Pussy" and expect standards by Texas legends like Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Clarence "Pinetop" Smith, and others. Belter Sherrill Douglas makes a cameo appearance as Patsy Cline for a country diversion from this otherwise full-frontal blues program. The evening kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird. Tickets are $10. Call 821-1860.
The Second-Annual Deep Ellum Summer Arts Festival: Speaking of festivals that celebrate the ever-thriving American blues tradition, the second-annual Deep Ellum Summer Arts Festival sweeps in with a live musical stage strictly dedicated to blues, jazz, and blues- and jazz-influenced performers like the Spin Doctors, Tablet, and the Freewheelers. The most American or un-American vision of the arts, depending on your impressions of the U.S. class war, is the Deep Ellum Summer Arts Festival Body-Art Exposition, in which folks with large, colorful, conspicuous tattoos are awarded trophies based on how colorful, conspicuous, and articulate their tattoos really are. Other visual arts are in the offing, as well as food and a host of strolling street performers. Festival hours are July 5, 7 p.m.-11 p.m.; July 6, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and July 7, 1 p.m.-9 p.m. in Deep Ellum. It's free. Call 747-DEEP.