Edward James Olmos: His well-publicized personal troubles with a certain angry ex-wife and a rogue gun aside, Edward James Olmos claims that his life would be just hunky-dory if he chose not to speak out against gang activity in nationwide tours. As it happens, Olmos insists that opening his mouth has constituted a relinquishment of personal safety; death-threats from gang leaders in major cities are a common experience for the actor. He's also not especially popular with the Latino-American mafia, thanks to his searing American Me, which pretty conclusively established that adult crime lords were getting drunk off the blood of inner-city teens. His latest talk, "We're All in the Same Gang," is sponsored by EX-CEL campus activities at the University of Texas at Arlington. Is gang activity at UTA a seriously underreported problem? Or has Olmos' increasingly high profile as an anti-gang activist resulted in his desire not to serve as a human target at speeches in neighborhoods where children can't walk in front of their own bedroom windows at night for fear of stray bullets? Olmos speaks at 7:30 p.m. at Texas Hall, 701 W. Nedderman in Arlington. Tickets are $7-$25. Call (817) 272-2963.
International Gem and Jewelry Show: "It's not just rocks!" is the catchy rejoinder slapped a bit defensively over the press materials for the International Gem and Jewelry Show, an orgy of shiny objects for the raccoon in all of us. More than 200 vendors will be on site to educate the public about gemstones, precious metals, and the process of bringing those two together--all in the hopes that a patron educated on the spot will become an enthusiastic consumer. Demonstrations include arts like gem polishing and cutting, wire wrapping, ring design, and decorating. Word to the cheap: If you just dig the dangly, gaudy look of jewelry and don't really care what the stuff is made of, the Gem and Jewelry Show is chock full o' cheap costume pieces. The show runs April 25-27 at Market Hall on Stemmons Freeway. Tickets are $5. Call (214) 342-4936.
Poetic Descents: Excursions with Clayton Eshelman: WordSpace invites Dallasites who have a desire to tour Inner Space to participate in a weekend series with internationally renowned poet and translator Clayton Eshelman. "Poetic Descents: Excursions With Clayton Eshelman" is the name for two events that investigate the relationship between creativity and the unconscious. "The Paleolithic Imagination and the Creation of the Underworld: Investigational Work on an Area of Prehistory" is a slide lecture and poetry reading that draws on Eshelman's own spelunking. "Images of Antonin Artaud" is a talk about the famed artist-philosopher whose electroshock treatments reputedly kick-started his most fertile period. The slide lecture and poetry reading are April 25, 8-10 p.m., at the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture; the talk on Artaud happens April 27 at 2 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Art. Tickets for separate events are $7-$10. Call (214) 821-9671.
Ella Patterson: It's been almost two years since Dallas Observer covergoddess Ella Patterson was dispensing advice about the dermatological benefits of semen to eager readers. Since then, the bestselling author and expert has made the rounds of national print, TV, and radio providing information about making life more erotic and making yourself more creative, productive, and a generally nicer person to be around. Pearls from her latest, 1001 Reasons to Think Positive, have been known to appear on the editorial bulletin board of a certain earnest weekly. Come see what all the fuss is about. Patterson chats and signs copies of 1001 Reasons at 7 p.m. at Borders Books & Music, 4613 S. Hulen, Fort Worth. Call (817) 370-9476.
Denton Arts and Jazz Festival: Last year's Denton Arts and Jazz Festival attracted more than 50,000 visitors, a healthy number that can be chalked up to the repository of jazz fans in the city 40 miles north of Dallas, not to mention the perpetually laid-back demeanor of many Dentonites, who never decline an opportunity to stand in the sunshine wearing shorts with friends. Craftspeople and food vendors will attempt to distract you with their concoctions, but keep your aim true for all the jazz (or jazz-ish) musicians that're the real reason for the season--Brave Combo, Dallas Jazz Orchestra, Stephen Bruton, Marchel Ivery, Carlos Guedes, Little Jack Melody and His Young Turks, and more. The fest runs April 25-27 at Civic Center Park, 321 E. McKinney, Denton. It's free. Call (817) 565-0931.
19th Annual Grapevine Country Craft Fair: Don't be fooled by the benevolent countenance worn by old people peddling their creations at the 19th Annual Grapevine Country Craft Fair--the major differences between a temperamental New York City artist and a Grapevine craftsperson are an eating disorder and an agent. Much soul has been poured into the decoratives, knick-knacks, baubles, collectibles, and other ephemera on display over these two days, so don't insult the artists by starting with too low a bid. The fair runs April 26, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and April 27, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., at Will Rogers Memorial Center, Amon Carter Exhibits Hall, Fort Worth. Tickets are $3; children 12 years and under get in free. Parking is free. Call (817) 488-0789.
Roots of Violence Symposium: Much as we at the Observer would love to live in a world without suffering (no more big-budget action thrillers starring Sylvester Stallone would be a nice start), we have to scratch our heads at a concept like the Roots of Violence Symposium, which currently celebrates its fourth year. The roots of violence are in the human heart--end of symposium, right? The Dallas Psychoanalytic Society and Zero Tolerance for Violence believe this only begins the conversation. "The Foreplay of Violence: Ethical and Spiritual Considerations" is the topic of this meeting of national minds from religious and secular fields. The event happens 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center of Southern Methodist University. It's free. Call (214) 739-1050.
Eddie Coker: No "Edward" or "Ed" for Mr. Coker, please, who has the face of a seven-year-old and often finds himself hanging out with said age group, a demographic that's notoriously honest and notoriously picky about their entertainment. Eddie Coker has emerged over the last few years as perhaps our city's most sought-after child entertainer. If Raffi had been a member of Kids in the Hall, and Kids in the Hall had soft-pedaled their overtures to adults but retained their comic intensity in character performances, the result would have to be someone like Coker, whose songs are elaborate mind games and delusions of grandeur amplified to fit a kid's imagination. The concert starts at 2 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre, 192 Elm St. Tickets are $12. Call (214) 373-8000.
A Taste of Fort Worth: For 21 years now, Big Brothers and Sisters of Tarrant County have known that the way to a donor's heart is through his or her stomach--or, specifically, a gustatory event that will entertain the stomach and let people know exactly how important their ticket dollars are to an organization that seeks to relieve a little burden from time-strapped single-parent families. More than 30 of Fort Worth's most popular restaurants--including the 8.0, Angeluna, Mancuso's, and the Blue Mesa Grill--offer food and beverage. There are also live and silent auctions, giveaways, live music and dancing, and more. You can get a mouthful of Cowtown 6-11 p.m. in the West Room of the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth. Call (817) 654-0155.
Photographs Do Not Bend: You may proudly display photographs of ancestors in your home, but chances are your collection doesn't contain "photogravures," products of a printing process developed in the late 19th century that salvaged images on superior-quality paper and was peerless in its ability to reproduce the lens-based photo image. Photographs Do Not Bend presents a show called The Photogravure: Vintage & Contemporary that features classic prints by Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, and Alvin Langdon Coburn as well as contemporary examples of photogravure by Aaron Siskind, Debbie Fleming, and Victor Vasquez. The show opens with a reception April 25, 6-9 p.m., and runs through May 31 at Photographs Do Not Bend, 3115 Routh St. It's free. Call (214) 969-1852.
STOMP: Be forewarned that by the time this issue of DO hits the streets, getting tickets to the extended Dallas run by British percussionists STOMP may be as tall an order as keeping your hands and feet still during a concert by these eight performers. STOMP is that kind of critic-proof entertainment that bypasses intellectualizing and goes straight for the rhythmic heart of audiences. A STOMP performance is 80 percent beat (from any and every source you can name) and about 20 percent clowning. STOMP members are known to get a little carried away with their efforts at audience-pleasing, which is the whole reason for the scarcity of tickets in every city they tour. Events happen Tuesday-Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 5 and 9 p.m.; Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m. through May 4 at McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $9-$42, but many shows will be sold out. Call (214) 528-5576.
The God Squad: Can it really be that two religions who've engaged in ruthless, bloody skirmishes with each other across the centuries spawn representatives who now want to discuss similarities, not differences? Rabbi Marc Gellman and Reverend Monsignor Thomas Hartman are "The God Squad" of TV, print, and radio fame, respective mouthpieces for Judaism and Catholicism who think the devil is in the details--much blood has been spilt historically over disagreements in emphasis and interpretation of the same religious tracts. Gellman and Hartman don't pretend that Jews and Catholics always see eye to eye, but their no-nonsense, user-friendly theological approach is welcome in a world of cruel dogma. The discussion will be at Greer Garson Theatre on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $10-$25. For time call (214) 768-4508.
The Literary Cafe: Arts & Letters Live concludes its 1997 "Literary Cafe" season with a quartet of performers who might be accused of having attitude if they didn't also have ability to back it up. National Public Radio commentator and bestselling memoirist Marion Winik; Classic Theatre Company co-creator and Dallas stage actor Greg Gormley; Houston-based poet "Z" (known to her mama as Lazette Marie Jackson); and Dallas-based poetical hurricane C.J. Critt, founder of the Angry Girl Sextet, are all on board to offer a hale and hearty farewell to The Literary Cafe for this calendar year. The event happens at 8:30 p.m. at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St. It's free. Call (214) 922-1220.