The Legalization of Marijuana: A political correctness not born of the American left has surrounded the debate over how to deal with drugs and drug addictions in our country. Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders got canned in part not for advocating the legalization of drugs, but for daring to suggest that legalization is an idea that should be explored further (oh, yeah, and for suggesting that the topic of masturbation should be addressed in sex education classes; this woman was just too sane to last in our insane public dialogues). A decrepit Bob Dole hammered away at a president some feel has been "soft" on drugs, insisting we pour millions more down the pit of a federal War on Drugs that many conservatives as well as liberals have conceded is a failure. Although the drug problem in pot-tolerant Amsterdam is more complex than the pro-legalization side admits, the argument that crime is created not by drugs but by their illegal status is a strong one. Did we learn nothing from Prohibition besides "Don't touch America's liquor cabinet"? And what about the mounting evidence that alcohol, the legal drug, is more destructive than all the illegal ones combined? Do the various practical applications of hemp warrant a repeal of anti-marijuana laws? Steve Hagar, editor in chief of High Times magazine, faces off against Curtis Sliwa, president and founder of the Guardian Angels, in a public debate about the legalization of marijuana. Guess who is on which side. Let's hope that both camps rely on facts instead of fury when they present their cases to the audience. The debate happens at 7:30 p.m. in the Bluebonnet Ballroom of the University Center of the University of Texas at Arlington, 301 W. Second St. in Arlington. Tickets are $3-$6. Call (817) 272-2963.
The Night of the Chupacabras: Teatro Dallas, our fair city's fearless Latino theater company, continues its seasonal tradition of honoring the Day of the Dead with an original production that mixes highfalutin cultural themes with rock-bottom entertainment goals. The Night of the Chupacabras is the latest exploration by Teatro Dallas' in-house playwright, Valerie Brogan, who has previously explored the undead myth through various incarnations of her character, Don Juan Vampire. The Night of the Chupacabras is a dramatization of a Latin American horror folk tale that has pre-Columbian roots. Come watch, and ask yourself: Did the European takeover of the North American continent set the stage for a centuries-old alienation from our own mortality? Performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 8:15 p.m. through November 2 at 2204 Commerce. Tickets are $12-$15. (Wednesday performances are pay-what-you-can; Thursdays there are two-for-one tickets.) Call 741-6833.
Sankai Juku: Perhaps the only American art form that comes close in spirit to the Japanese dance called butoh--and even this is a stretch--is the blues. Butoh is a naturalistic movement founded by Japanese masters in the '60s as a response to the carnage at Hiroshima and other horrors of World War II. These dancers attempt to find a strand of hope and humanity inside despair, although despair figures prominently in their facial expressions and the measured movements of their arms and legs. It's as if Sankai Juku, Japan's leading proponent of butoh, had skipped the form of art and headed straight to its turmoil-ridden contents. TITAS invites the dancers back to Dallas for a third showcase of their talents and a brand-new piece called "Yuragi." Performances happen October 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. at McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-5576.
Romance Extravaganza: The Barnes & Noble in North Richland Hills celebrates Falling For Romance, the conference for writers hosted by the North Texas chapter of Romance Writers of America, with a mass book-signing by local scribes. Although often discounted as a monolithic force in the publishing industry, romance novels actually have clearly defined subcategories--historical, erotica, mystery. Peruse some of the titles by authors who'll be appearing at the Romance Extravaganza--Leanna Wilson's Strong Silent Cowboy, Pat Cody's A Risky Rogue, Susan Macias' Courtney's Cowboy--and you can't help but find a trend. Lovers of big, hairy, tobacco-stained men, take note. The event happens at 8 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, 8525 Airport Freeway, North Richland Hills. It's free. Call (817) 281-7042.
The Great Pumpkin Carnival and Sale: Those of us who have attempted to carve a jack-o'-lantern face only to have the orange vegetable look like Bette Davis after her stroke rely on the talents of others to brighten our Halloweens. You'll find some of the snazziest jack-o'-lanterns in Dallas at the Great Pumpkin Carnival and Sale. Created to benefit the Northaven Cooperative Preschool and Kindergarten, this annual event splits the fun down the middle for kids ages 2 to 7 and adults. There's a silent auction of items and services and a performance by the Town North Band for the adults; and games, rides, clowns, puppet shows, fake tattoos, and other stuff for the kids. Kids are encouraged to come dressed in costume. The pumpkin sale starts October 17, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and continues the October 19 date of the carnival, which happens 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Northaven Cooperative Preschool and Kindergarten, 11211 Preston. Admission is free. Call 404-9777.
Kuumba Kaleidoscope: The fruits of a year-long program for so-called "at risk" young people culminates this afternoon with a performance of original scenes, monologues, dance, and poetry. "At risk" is socio-speak that's about to become meaningless, since it seems no neighborhood nor socioeconomic class is immune to violence and addiction by its youth. For now, the inner cities are still the centers of gang and drug-dealing activity, so the kids who live there are being targeted by social workers. Seven teens from the Oliver W. Holmes Middle School participate in "Kuumba Kaleidoscope," which is directed by actress Tisha Crear, who leads the kids through acting and improv on subjects like decision-making and leadership skills. The afternoon kicks off at 1 p.m. at the South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 South Fitzhugh. It's free. Call 526-4076.
Sixth Anniversary People of Size Dance: People of Size Social Club is the name of a 6-year-old support and networking organization that specializes in people who are (you pick the adjective you're comfortable with): fat, large, of size, overweight, big. No matter what name you give it, medical statistics make one thing clear: America as a nation is fat, large, of size, overweight, big. You wouldn't know it, though, from turning on the TV or flipping through magazines. America's self-esteem is ruled by a tiny elite of slim-waisted body fascists. In a United States ruled by a real cultural democracy, all those skinny snobs would be clinging to each other like a bundle of sticks amid big, meat-eating, hairless mammals with all the mercy of a T. Rex. People of Size celebrates its sixth year as a club with a dance for chubbies or those who just chase them. The dance begins at 8 p.m. at The Currency Club inside Dallas Park Central Hotel, 7750 LBJ Freeway. Nonmembers pay $10. Call (903) 629-7177.
The Deatherians: Dallas' acclaimed Undermain Theatre gets a late start on the '96-'97 theater season with an original production from a man who possesses both a sick sense of humor and a strong social conscience. Into this very Swiftian territory--albeit with a lot more sex and violence--rides John O'Keefe and his latest outrage The Deatherians. Undermain has performed three plays by O'Keefe, but this latest is a commissioned world premiere about a futuristic world where the cure for death fetches a high price on the black market. Tonight's opening performance happens at 7:30 p.m.; regular performances happen Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays at 8:15 p.m. through November 23 at The Basement Space, 3200 Main. Tickets are $10-$18. (Wednesdays are pay-what-you-can.) Call 747-5515.
Texas Brewers Festival: While we fully support the spirit and success of something like the Texas Brewers Festival, which supports Lone Star small businesses even as it allows people to enjoy a cherished refreshment, it's hard not to introduce the topic of crime and punishment. More and more 18-year-olds are facing a manslaughter charge after they got behind the wheel when they shouldn't have; the state of Texas doesn't mess around with drunk drivers. Go have fun, but if you know you tend to overindulge, admit it and make plans for it. The event happens Saturday, noon-9 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m.-7 p.m., at Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth. Entrance is free, but you have to buy a $3 festival mug and $2.50 beer tickets. Call 1-888-BREWFEST.
David Copperfield: We all know that David Copperfield made an airplane and the Statue of Liberty disappear before international audiences, but the burning question really is: How many jaw teeth did he make disappear to get those killer cheekbones? Copperfield is not only a pretty-boy celeb, he's arguably the most important living advocate for the dying art of legerdemain--albeit on a remote, Spielbergian, multimillion-dollar level. He's about to open a Broadway show under the stewardship of Francis Ford Coppola and special effects wiz Eiko Ishioka, but comes to Dallas for five performances during two days. Performances happen October 19 at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. and October 20 at 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. at the Dallas Convention Center Arena. For ticket info call 373-8000.
Actors Offstage: Borders Books & Music hosts the 10th in its series called Actors Offstage, which features Dallas stage regulars reading favorite authors. Perusing the list of actors, we can assure you that some of the city's best are performing in this free event. Raphael Perry engages Charles Bukowski; Beverly Jacob Daniel tackles Katherine Mansfield; Greg Gormley interprets Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Constance Gold channels Sandra Cisneros; Timothy Vahle intones Barry Yourgrau; Rene Moreno inhabits Marquez; Rhonda Boutte realizes Richard Wright; Kateri Cale covers Russell Edson; Laurel Hoitsma energizes yet another Marquez; Jeremy Schwartz spars with Mark Leyner; and Sally Nyusten explores Gretel Ehrlich. The evening kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Borders Books, 10720 Preston and Royal. It's free. Call 363-1977.
Rhythm Thief: As part of its Independent Showcase, the USA Film Festival screens a scrappy, pulsing, zero-budget drama that was narrowly defeated by the vapid, self-indulgent, annoying The Brothers McMullen in the race for top prize at 1995's Sundance Film Festival. Filmed in just 11 days with change the director found under his couch cushions, Rhythm Thief wrestles indie American cinema from the talkfests that have plagued it with the tale of an East Village loner (Jason Andrews) who sells bootleg music cassettes by day, illegally tapes live performances by night. A dopey friend who tries to crash his gig, a saintly ex-girlfriend, and a woman he hangs around with just for sex complicate his otherwise depressingly uncomplicated life. Rhythm Thief uses MTV-inspired quick cuts, transition effects, and camera techniques to advance the spare but compelling story, not compensate for it. It's terrific. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway. Admission is $6.50. Call 821-NEWS.
L.A. Guitar Quartet: The ecstatically reviewed, blandly named L.A. Guitar Quartet brings new meaning to the phrase "musical chairs": Because William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, John Dearman, and Andrew York all were accomplished classical soloists before they banded together, each rotates as lead from piece to piece. This is decidedly not the case with most chamber ensembles. But then, L.A. Guitar Quartet is something of a Fab Four on today's classical scene: William is the flashy award winner, Scott the former child prodigy, John the world music aficionado, and Andrew the composer recorded 'round the world. It's enough to make you wanna swoon! The show happens at 8 p.m. at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora in the Arts District. Tickets are $12-$54. Call 528-3733.