Events for the week
Taste of Deep Ellum Tour '95: With their long series of art and music festivals, it seems obvious that the powers behind Deep Ellum are trying to allay fears that the neighborhood is headed toward tourist-trapsville. Although it may be one of the first places Dallas hosts take out-of-town visitors for dinner and drinks, the district remains unvisited by a large percentage of Dallasites, if only because of its reputation as a parking nightmare. Along comes the district's very first "Taste of..." tour, an attempt by restaurant owners to drag you by the tastebuds into uncharted regions where alcohol and live music had previously been the biggest draws. Fourteen different restaurants are participating with drink specials and delicacies arranged for stroll-through visitors. An after-tour party winds up at Monica's Aca y Alla at 9 p.m. The Taste of Deep Ellum happens 6-10 p.m. on Main, Elm, and Commerce streets in Deep Ellum. Tickets are $25. For info call 480-0011.
Sex, Blood & Mutilation: But what would a poor, unsuspecting Taste of Deep Ellum tourist think should he or she wander after the festivities into Tunnel Werks, where lovely postprandial topics such as labial piercings, ritual cuttings, and aesthetic amputations are explored in rapturous cinematic detail? The filmmaker is Joe Christ, former Dallas provocateur turned New York provocateur and husband of horror novelist Nancy A. Collins. In Sex, Blood & Mutilation, which has already screened once this year in Dallas, Christ assembles friends like former Throbbing Gristle performer Genesis P-Orridge and masochistic performance artist David Aaron Clark to give a show-and-tell about the whole body-modification culture. Christ leads a discussion after the show, which happens at 10 p.m. in Tunnel Werks, 115 N. Oakland Ave in Deep Ellum. Tickets are $4. Call 744-3337.
Twelfth Annual Friends of the Plano Public Library Book Sale: There's a nationwide tragedy--one that hits especially close to home in Dallas--that gets virtually no attention in this clumsy slash-and-burn era of urban budgets. While everyone's yelling about taking money away from the bureaucrats, building more prisons, and cutting taxes, the largest free source of information and an indispensable component of the public education system reels under staff cuts, pitifully outdated equipment, and an ever-dwindling budget for new materials. Even a grumpy defender of class privilege like Newt Gingrich has expressed concern over the state of libraries in this country. Per location, Plano public libraries are in better shape than the ones in Dallas, but they still rely on charitable donations to stay afloat. One of the best ways you can give is buy, buy, buy at the Twelfth Annual Friends of the Plano Public Library Book Sale. Over 100,000 titles are on sale at 50 cents for softcovers, $1.50 for hardcovers. The sale takes place daily July 27-29 at Plano Centre in Plano. For info call 964-4200.
African Children's Choir: For 20 years now, the Grammy-nominated African Children's Choir has been traveling Europe and America, with support stateside from an organization known as Friends in the West. These folks essentially take care of the details of the Choir--recording dates, bookings, room and board for the singers in the homes of volunteer families--while the group performs ancient and contemporary African compositions and brings attention to the diseases, famines, and wars that have traumatized that continent for centuries. The African Children's Choir makes a Dallas concert stop--one of many throughout North Texas--at 6 p.m. in the Lake Highlands Church of Christ, 10151 Shoreville. Donations are gratefully accepted, and the opportunity to sponsor a Rwandan orphan is available. 348-2252.
Resist Terror: A Memorial: There have been so many public places transformed into impromptu memorials for the dead over the last couple years--the site of the original Branch Davidian compound in Waco, the South Carolina lake where Susan Smith drowned her two little boys, the rubble from the blasted federal building in Oklahoma City. Americans hate to say goodbye, so we seek to create something that will prolong the process. Texas artist and poet Brian Carlson and the superb Denton-based classical guitarist Carlo Pezzimenti have collaborated on a performance piece in tribute to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, but it serves as a larger lament for the media-chronicled tragedies of our time. Entitled "Resist Terror: A Memorial," it's a long poem for four readers with music by Pezzimenti. The performance kicks off at 7:30 p.m. in Paperbacks Plus, 6115 La Vista. It's free, but all donations benefit the Oklahoma City survivors. For more information call 827-4860.
Bob Clampett Tribute: The Dallas Museum of Art's Third Annual Summer Animation Festival continues with a Sunday tribute to the often overlooked third light in the great American trilogy of non-Disney animators--Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and Bob Clampett. Clampett's work for the Warner Brothers studio had a gentle, loopy spirit to it, his Bugs and Daffy adventures proceeding at a pace so even-tempered that they are, at their least inspired, a bit lethargic, especially compared to the sheer body-twisting adrenaline of Avery and the slapstick ballet of Jones. Clampett was a craftsman who never kept as many balls in the air as his legendary brethren, but the best stuff bears his unmistakable stamp of big-hearted affection. On July 29, a program of award-winning international cartoons is screened. Both shows kick off at 2 p.m. in the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Tickets are $4 for each show. For info call 922-1200.
Psychic Fair: While it's easy to poke fun at the whole New Age culture, its practitioners repackage philosophies and rituals that predate both the Christian and Muslim faiths. It's not the ideas themselves that offend, but the audience that seems to be most attracted to them--folks with college degrees and high-paying jobs who are looking for a path to self-enlightenment and inner peace that bypasses the blood, sweat, and tears of everyday experience. Can there be spirituality without suffering, cleansing without conflict? Don't blame the New Agers for trying--The Easy Way is the oldest, most well-traveled of American tollways, although each stopping point seems a little more expensive than the last. Come mingle with angel aficionados, near-death addicts, and past-life and chakra devotees at Dallas' Oldest and Largest Psychic Fair, which features not only metaphysical paraphernalia but palm and tarot card readers, psychics, and channelers. The Fair happens noon-6 p.m. in the Lone Star Ballroom of the Dallas Park Central Hotel, LBJ & Coit. Admission is $6-$8, but readings are $15 each. For information call 241-4876.
Music, Magic, and More! These days it takes more than just a shiny red nose and floppy shoes to entertain kids--you gotta create illusions like Spielberg and Disney. While kids' entertainer Jim McNeely doesn't have a computer-powered special effects team working behind him, he does combine an old-fashioned facility for weird magic tricks with a vaudevillian wit and musical sense. McNeely has made quite a name for himself in different parts of the country, because he encourages the children to participate in the proceedings and has the parents trying to figure out how the hell he did that. McNeely brings his one-man show Music, Magic & More for a 5 p.m. show at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas, 7900 Northaven. Tickets are $7-$10. Call 739-2737.
The Light Crust Doughboys: Texas musical treasure The Light Crust Doughboys have for years advertised themselves proudly as the longest continually performing Western Swing group in America, and now they have the institution to back up that claim--the newly opened Light Crust Doughboys Hall of Fame and Museum. Housed in the McWhorter-Greenhaw Hardware & Music Store in Mesquite, the Museum contains original costumes, photos, books, recordings, and film loops documenting most of the 64 years and cavalcade of big names that have paraded through the organization--Bob Wills, Slim Whitman, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, to name a few. The latest incarnation of the Doughboys performs a concert to celebrate their Museum, with a little jazzy assistance from the Doughboys Brass and Reed Ensemble. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at The Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird. Tickets are $9. Call 821-1860.
Miss America Fashions: 1921-1987: In its 74-year history, The Miss America Pageant has been revered and reviled with more passion than any other public ceremony of this century. The arguments are famous, and convincing on both sides. Is it really so alarming that artificial ideas of physical beauty are honored with elaborate pageants, as they have been in all times and places throughout human civilization? No, until you consider the disturbing fact that Miss America is still the largest source of scholarship money for young women in the United States (how would the founding Ivy League patriarchs have fared in the swimsuit competition?). It's these conflicting realities that make the institution so fascinating, and fire the photographic exhibit Miss America Fashions: 1921-1987, a look at the changing styles in gowns and swimsuits for competitions down through the decades. The exhibit runs through September 30 on the fourth floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street. It's free. For more information call 670-7838.
Dancers Unlimited: In the TV nature documentaries of the '50s, every animal had a classification, every action a corresponding instinct, every habitat its own social function--all described by white guys with suspiciously slick, detached voices. It's this rather humorous giftwrapping of the gory, sloppy, merciless natural world that inspired choreographers Sherri Lacey and composer Frank Lacey, along with Dallas contemporary dance company Dancers Unlimited, to create their own very scientific assessment of American culture in the '90s. Wild Kingdom: Dances From the Suburban Congo is the end result, an original collaborative look at all the basic instincts--mating, shelter, food, social interplay--as practiced by creatures with brain stems big enough to laugh at themselves. Wild Kingdom is performed every Wednesday- Saturday at 8 p.m. through August 26 in the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney. Tickets are $12-$15. For ticket info call 520-ARTS.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus: Ever wonder what happens to elephants after they retire from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus? Actually, it does involve a senior citizens' home in Florida. Circus officials have created a farm that breeds new performers and provides a chance for veterans to partake of those activities that Golden Agers everywhere enjoy--chewing the shrubbery, picking the bugs off each other's rumps, cleaning themselves with nose showers. The old makes way for the new at this latest, 124th edition of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus--the star animal attraction is a pair of passionate pachyderms named Romeo and Juliette, the first elephants born and bred in the Florida facility. Can they survive the pressures of an arranged marriage? Watch them perform with all the other circus mainstays--clowns, acrobats, stunt artists, etc. The circus rolls into town for performances August 213 at Reunion Arena, 111 Sports. Tickets are $6.50-$27.50.
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What's happening in town? From underground club nights to the biggest outdoor festivals, our top picks for the week's best events will always keep you in on the action.