Dreamers and Demons: The World of Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Dallas literary series "Arts & Letters Live" presents a tribute to an international icon of letters whose voluminous body of work denied the existence of national borders. Like most great writers who manage to tap universal wellsprings, Isaac Bashevis Singer did it using the world of orthodox Judaism and his native Poland (and, later, the Jewish ghettos of his adopted New York City) as a guide and a prism. "Dreamers and Demons: The World of Isaac Bashevis Singer" examines the contributions of this remarkable scribe--who died in 1991--through a theater piece by Isaiah Sheffer that combines words from Singer's novels, short stories, letters, and memoirs. The distinguished Tony Award-winning actress Marian Seldes and singing Spock, Leonard Nimoy, combine forces for a two-person staged reading of this ode to Singer. The event happens at 7:30 p.m. at the Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest. It's free. For information call 922-1220.
BR5-49: The five guys who comprise the Nashville psychobilly ensemble BR5-49 are just cute and talented enough for the folks in the Nashville mainstream to be extremely suspicious. In a town not known for its ability to separate artistic value from record sales, Don Herron, Chuck Mead, "Smilin'" Jay McDowell, "Hank" Shaw Wilson, and Gary Bennett created quite a stir by reviving the booze-soaked blast of Western swing and honky-tonk for packed clubs of twentysomethings and geezers alike. If Willie Nelson can barely get a Nashville record exec to return his phone calls, what's the ulterior motive of five guys who revive the classic blues and bluegrass-inspired melodies that influenced him? And were they trying to be smartasses by naming their band after the mythical used-car lot owned by Junior Samples in Hee Haw? BR5-49 is the hot number teaching a legendary American music city that roots don't just belong in museums. The guys perform May 30 and May 31 at 8 p.m. at Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm. For ticket information call 747-4422.
Hay Fever: Noel Coward was a guy who appreciated the boundless comic possibilities of the fish out of water. His plays, monologues, songs, and performances are fueled by the tension (and catharsis) of individuals whose class, education, gender, sexuality (the crafty old Noel kept that topic veiled but constant, except when he could be pressed to perform his own "Mad About the Boy" in concert) serve the same function as those gigantic padded bats they hand you in aggression therapy to work out your frustrations. Revived constantly everywhere, it seems, but in Texas, Coward's most famous comedy Hay Fever brought these elements to a boil with a look at one family full of artistic, sensitive members who can't quite stop shocking their stodgy guests. Windmill Productions swoops in to fill the Coward-Lone Star gap with a new production. Performances happen Wednesday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. through June 16 at Theatre Too! (below Theatre Three) in the Quadrangle. Tickets are $12 (although Wednesdays are pay-what-you-can). For information call 941-1751.
Project: A-KON 7: A recent Harper's excerpt provided a hilariously overwrought defense by one fanatic of another. The guy writing the piece was a Trekkie who defended the honor of the alternate juror in the Whitewater case who showed up in court wearing a Starship Enterprise uniform. The author of the piece wasn't defending her, he was forging a political manifesto for fandom ("We're Here, We're Fans, Get Used To It") in the face of a cynical world. The three-day Project: A-Kon 7 would be an excellent stage for this guy to drum up the faithful, although the show mostly sidesteps Star Trek in favor of more-exotic anime and its devotees. Guests include Frank Conniff from Mystery Science Theater 3000; Justin Achilli and Joshua Timbrook from White Wolf Games; Trish LeDoux of Animerica Magazine; and numerous animators and production officials from Japanimation companies. Events happen starting May 31 at noon and run through June 2 at 5 p.m. at the Harvey Hotel Addison, 14315 Midway Rd. in Addison. Admission is $10-$35. Call 980-8877.
Sport Truck Magazine Expo: It should surprise no one who's spent more than five minutes on Texas highways that our fair state boasts the largest number of truck owners in the country. While coming in handy for folks who have a lot of friends, they also provide ample body space for the kind of self-expression only a $2,000 paint job can provide. (Dig that woman with large breasts caressing the pinball machine!) Press information for the Sport Truck Magazine Expo, sponsored by an august little literary journal known as Sport Truck Magazine, mentions that "everything from restored classics to late-model beauties, from screaming minitrucks to beefed-up dualies, will be on display." This is the third consecutive banner year for Texans who like their vehicles beefy and screaming. Events happen June 1, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and June 2, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on the grounds of the State Fair of Texas. Tickets are $3-$8 (kids younger than 6 get in free). For more information call 1-800-858-6381.
Paul Rodriguez: Paul Rodriguez started off telling jokes about inner-city Latino living and wound up as one of 1995's most successful, if rarely mentioned, filmmakers. His touching, underrated comedy A Million To Juan--which he starred in, directed, and produced--was filmed for less than $165,000. The total worldwide gross for Juan on film and video as of this writing is $13 million. Ricocheting between various forms of comic entertainment media may be how Paul Rodriguez distinguished himself as one of the most successful Latino artists in American pop culture today, but it's the yearning quality of his performances that insures that people return to him again and again for a view of the world that manages to be gentle and trenchant. The performance kicks off at 8 p.m. at Casa Manana, 3101 W. Lancaster in Fort Worth. For ticket information call (817) 332-CASA.
BarleyPalooza '96: Many events including Tinypalooza, in Dallas, and Hullabalooza '96, which rocked the town of Springfield (and Homer's gut) in a recent episode of The Simpsons, have been created to cash in on (and critique) the twentysomething phenomena known as Lollapalooza. Pills with tiny dove-shaped carvings on them; guys who shove nails up their nostrils for fun and profit; and stringy-haired '90s rockers long on attitude but short on record sales are the ingredients that make this much-hyped brew percolate. And speaking of brew, the owners of the Barley House have assembled their own version, where Texas-made beer is a staple. In its second year, BarleyPalooza boasts such hot Dallas bands as Slobberbone, Cowboys and Indians, the Nitrons, the Sutcliffes, and the Buena Vistas. Redbeard and Buddy Wiley from KTXQ-FM share the MC duties with Buddy Hickerson, creator of the "Quigmans" comic strip and a sometime Observer contributor. The show kicks off at noon and runs till around 2 a.m. at the Barley House, 2916 N. Henderson. It's free, although any canned goods you bring are donated to The North Texas Food Bank. Call 824-0306.
Vintage Texas Wine and Music Festival: Is it possible that one day the epicureans of the world will be debating whose vineyards are better--Paris, France, or Paris, Texas? Texas vinos are slowly busting out all over the country (and all over the world) on some of the world's more-tony wine lists. The first annual Vintage Texas Wine and Music Festival is a reaction to this, in part, as well as a public-relations blowout to acquaint Lone Star wine snobs with the very best our vines have to offer. Wineries represented include Cap Rock, Delaney, La Bodega, and Messina Hof. Some of the state's top restaurants provide victuals, and two live-music stages boast the likes of The Dallas Jazz Orchestra, Colin Boyd, and Leslie Gale Brooks. Festival hours are June 1, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and June 2, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. at Delaney Vineyards, Highway 121 and Glade Road in Grapevine. Tickets are $3-$5 (free for kids younger than 6). Call (817) 424-0570.
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Boocos The Clown: He wears a tall hat, has a big red nose, and extols the virtues of good citizenship even while he practices a brand of theatrical illusion. No, Pope John Paul II isn't coming. We're talking about Boocos The Magical Juggling Clown, who might just as well be named Boocos The Clown Who Thinks You Should Have Your Nose In a Book Rather Than Watch Him. Actually, Boocos knows such a belief would leave him unemployed (he's a clown, not a fool), so he attempts, through his modest magic tricks and audience-participation-style presentations, to help kids see the magical properties of reading a good book. His appearances, which coincide with the launching of the 1996 "Texas Summer Reading Challenge," are today at 1 p.m. in the Kleberg-Rylie Branch Library, 1301 Edd Rd., and June 6, 2:30 p.m. at the Audelia Road Branch Library, 10045 Audelia. They're free. Call 670-7838.
Dallas Shorts: A Play Fest: The Playwrights Project and the Dallas Public Library system join forces to stage a series of short plays by local and national playwrights. The whole month of June is dedicated to celebrating live performance at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, in part to bring attention to the historical exhibit The Dallas Theater Center: The Early Years 1955-1982. Performances of the Project's short plays happen June 3-6 at 7 p.m. and June 8 and 9 at 3 p.m. in the auditorium of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young. The rest of the month-long series includes a revival of the 10-minute play collection, Director's Choice, by Windmill Productions, and a staged reading of plays by Dain Dunston. They're free. Call 670-7838.
James Evans: All artists are motivated by their obsessions, and in the case of the award-winning Texas-based photographer James Evans, the death of a dear friend is high on his list. He has garnered national kudos for a series known as "Lucille," nature photos of the flora and fauna encroaching upon the home site of his late friend Lucille French Clark. Morbid? Not really. Evans doesn't see the return of natural plant and animal life in a human-created domicile as encroachment, but rather as a reclamation of the rights of nature. Presumably, Clark felt the same way. Eight pages of his landscape photography published in the June Texas Monthly have again focused all eyes on Evans as a poet of Southwest geography--specifically, the Big Bend region of Texas, where he has lived and worked for almost a decade. A collection of his work opens with a reception June 1 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and runs through July 18 at the Afterimage Gallery, 2828 Routh St. in The Quadrangle. It's free. Call 871-9140.
Gay 101: The recent Supreme Court decision that declared Colorado's anti-gay Amendment 2 unconstitutional was not, as many disgruntled hard-line social conservatives insist, some kind of coup by left-wing activists (the highest court in the land, after all, teems with appointees from the Reagan and Bush years). It was a victory for common sense. The homophobes who placed the deceptively worded amendment on a Colorado referendum in the first place were praying that nobody would notice the bizarre contradiction at the heart of their legislation, which sought to deny the existence of a community even as it explicitly singled out that community as undeserving of government protection. The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance presents its free three-hour Gay 101: The Facts About Homosexuality monthly to illuminate the legal, medical, spiritual, and social ramifications of being homo in a hetero world. Expect the Supreme Court's decision to dominate the discussion. The event happens 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 2701 Reagan at Brown. It's free. Call 528-9254.