Andrew Sullivan: Although The New Republic's 29-year-old editor has been called a conservative gay activist, in his publication - and the essays he's written for The New York Times and other publications - Andrew Sullivan has carved out a fiercely moderate position on social issues (with a slight tilt toward the right where the economy is concerned). His position in the middle of the road predated President Clinton's. Although respected, Sullivan is regarded as something of an oddity in the world of politics - an openly gay man, a practicing Roman Catholic who is eager to criticize the excesses of the homosexual rights movement as those of Christian fundamentalist Republicans. Sullivan isn't likely to lead a revolution anytime soon, but his new book, Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality, is an attempt to refocus gay rights as a broad social issue and not a plea for tolerance of individual behavior. Some of his opinions may surprise you. Sullivan appears to discuss and sign his book at 7 pm at Crossroads Market, 3930 Cedar Springs. 521-8919.
Visionaries and Rebels: American Literature After the Atom Bomb: The great American writers of the post-War era were a rowdy crowd of regionalists who represented every American experience you can imagine. And they seem to have talked about the woes of their lives with a lot less self-indulgence than their '90s counterparts. Avid readers won't want to miss Visionaries and Rebels: American Literature After the Atom Bomb, an exhibit of ober 60 first editions of works by giants including Edward Albee, Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Wolfe, Saul Bellow, James Baldwin, Joyce Carol Oates, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Visionaries and Rebels was launched to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Friends of the SMU Libraries, who drew from their Colophon Moderns Collection to mount the show. It's free and runs through November 17 at the DeGolyer Library on the campus of Southern Methodist University. For info call 768-3225.
The UFVA Student Film & Video Festival: Now in its third year and proudly trumpeting itself as "the only aggressively international and independent student film festival in the U.S.," The UFVA Student Film & Video Festival (that stands for University Film and Video Association) is a traveling carnival of movies by film students from all over the world. This year, Festival organizers received 482 entries from 17 countries, 34 states and five Canadian provinces. All told, 150 film schools worldwide are represented. What audiences see at the festival is the cream of the crop - three award-winners in each of four different categories. The judges' panel features among others, one-woman New York City film revolution Christine Vachon, whose credit as producer has graced the most high-profile indie flicks of the last few years - Poison, Go Fish, Swoon and many others. The UFVA Student Film & Video Festival makes a one-day stop at The University of North Texas in Denton. Since you may never see these films again, this is a must-go for any film buff. For time and campus location call (817) 565-2537.
Peruvian Paso Horse Championships: If you, like most of us, have trouble telling your mules from your donkeys, then chances are you wouldn't be able to identify a Peruvian horse if it trampled you. In the international equine scene, however, a Peruvian Paso is a real gem, one of the last remaining naturally gaited breeds in the world. These horses aren't trained to achieve their graceful stride - they're bred for it. Since it was introduced in America, the Peruvian Paso has become the star of show and endurance competitions. The John Justin Arena in Fort Worth's Will Rogers Auditorium hosts the 22nd annual U.S. National Championship, a three-day program of events that includes a musical exercise class, in which horse and rider become dance partners; the champagne class, in which riders compete to see who can carry a champagne glass on horseback without spilling a drop; and self-explanatory competition classes like the Costume Class, Western Class, and Ladies' Sidesaddle Class. Admission to the events on Friday and Sunday is free, but Saturday evening costs $5. For more info call (508) 358-1088.
New York Underground Films: Now in its second week, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary's "New York Underground Film Series" is an attempt to bring noncommercial cinema to a city that seemed to say, with its neglect of the Major Theatre and its spotty support of the now-defunct Southwest Film and Video Archives, that it didn't care. With this in mind, the MAC's last offering, a film by Joe Gibbons and Emily Breer called The Genius (1993), is something of a cheeky jibe at artists who whine about not being noticed. The Genius is a no-holds-barred satire of the incestuous, ruthless, unethical world of New York visual art in which performance artist Karen Finley gleefully parodies herself as an "art terrorist." The film plays September 22-24 at 8 pm at 3120 McKinney. Admission is $5. For more info call 953-IMAC.
12th Annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade: The campaign for the 1996 American presidency is shaping up to be just as demeaning for gay and lesbian citizens as in 1992, with Republican candidates falling all over themselves to condemn or gain distance from the issue of homosexuality. With the gay community getting kicked from all sides by the very powerful religious right, what in the world is there to celebrate? For starters, how about the fine American tradition of throwing your weight around as a majority? This afternoon in Oak Lawn's Lee Park, it's the straight people who'll be the minority at the 12th Annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. The speeches, performances, and awards ceremonies are designed to highlight the enormous strides gay and lesbian activists have made. The parade begins around 3 pm at the Oak Lawn Library on Cedar Springs and moves to Lee Park.
Swank City: For a change, writer-actor-artistic director Johnny Simons hands the reins of his Fort Worth Hip Pocket Theatre to another talent. Guest playwright and director Sam Gooch stages his original work Swank City. Never fear, it's got all the elements of a a Hip Pocket show - a period setting, lively word play, and a mixture of music, comedy and suspense - even as it borrows a leaf from the cinematic tributes of Kurt Kleinmann's Pegasus Theatre. Swank City pays homage to the American detective thrillers of the 1940s with its tale of a Hitchcockian Everyman who accidentally gets tangled up in a murder plot. The play is conceived as a series of flashbacks to explain how the poor guy got into this dilemma, augmented by an original big band-flavored score from Jim Toler that is performed live by The Original Swanktones. Swank City runs Friday-Saturday at 8:30 pm through October 8 at 715 W. Magnolia in Fort Worth's historic Southside District. Tickets are $6-$12. For info call (817) 927-2833.
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Kairos! The press release describing this four-year-old North Texas theater company indicates that the troupe was born in San Marcos after two "inspired" readings of Tom Wolfe's LSD classic The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. While it would be libelous to speculate on the medicinal habits of the members, suffice it to say they're enthralled with the mystique of the '60s acid culture, so much so that they want to reproduce the visual and intellectual effects for folks who'd rather be voyeurs. Their first Dallas performance is an original piece written by member J.M. Hoover. Entitled A Cup of Trouble, it riffs on some of the theories of perception, intelligence and experience expounded in Wolfe's book. Hoover directs with the help of three Texas actor-producers. Give 'em a chance - they might be the grooviest thing that's ever turned you on. A Cup of Trouble is performed at 8 pm in Club Dada, 2712 Elm in Deep Ellum. Cover charge is a buck.
The Invisible Circus: The Dallas Theater Center, seemingly emboldened by its hugely successful Big D Festivals of the Unexpected, debuts its 36th season with a theatrical extravaganza that's difficult to describe. Part vaudeville revue, part old-fashioned circus, and part slapstick comedy, The Invisible Circus is a showcase for the talents of actress-acrobat Victoria Chaplin and actor-clown Jean Baptiste Thierree. Exported directly from a long and prosperous run in Paris (that's France, not Texas), the show is really just an excuse for Chaplin and Thierree to strut their stuff. She is an accomplished dancer-athlete who's as comfortable defying death in an aerial act as she is contorting her body into fanciful shapes. Thierree is part musician and all clown, a man who performs deceptively simple stage tricks and morphs in and out of wacky characterizations. The Invisible Circus plays Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday & Saturday at 8 pm; and Sunday at 2 pm through October 2 at the Arts District Theater, 2401 Flora. Tickets are $9-$39. For info call 522-TIXX
Beyond Banned Books: Censorship Issues of the 21st Century: The word "censorship" gets thrown around a lot , especially whenever the morals squad gets their dander up about dirty words and dirty pictures. The "c" word has been used so often by people who value freedom of expression that it has lost all its sting. As Ann Powers recently pointed out in a brilliant cover essay for the Village Voice, first amendment advocates and arts lovers are often loath to defend the content of most controversial works, since they may be uncomfortable with the more extreme stuff. From hip-hop lyrics to Internet porn, prime-time TV to NC-17 feature films, there's no shortage of lust, hostility, violence and degradation, but where are the pundits honest enough to admit that those are all legitimate materials for an artist to explore, and even - gasp! - exploit? The title of the panel discussion on censorship, "Banned Books," is somewhat misleading - books are only a small part of this symposium of ideas, which includes local personages such as Phil Seib and Bob Ray Sanders. The event is free and happens at 7:30 pm in the auditorium of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young. Call 670-1660.
Big D Poetry and the Autumn Equinox Poetry Reading: Dallas Observer performs its public service by informing you of two poetry readings scheduled at around the same time on the same night, but makes no pretense to recommend one above the other (hell hath no fury like a pissed-off poet). The poetry scene in Dallas has developed to the extent that you really need a weekly planner to keep up with all the events around town. You might consider flipping a coin here. The Dallas Poets Community and The Bath House Cultural Center combine forces to give you The Autumn Equinox Poetry Reading, which features 15 poets welcoming the new, blessedly cool season. The event kicks off at 7 pm at the Center, 521 E. Lawther on White Rock Lake. Suggested donation is $3. Call 492-0384. Club Dada's weekly Poetshowcase has invited four poets, three of whom were born and raised here and the other a Dallasite by choice, to rhapsodize about our fair city in an evening of verse called "Big D Poetry." The show happens at 7:30 pm at 2720 Elm. Admission is $2. Call 744-3232.