Alan Dershowitz: Being a civil libertarian in America at a time when politicians and talk-radio morons are demanding a quick emotional fix for our national malaise can be a thankless job...unless, of course, you're a civil libertarian who also happens to be one of the highest-paid defense attorneys in the country, a man who divides his time between representing the fabulously wealthy and the abjectly poor. This is the plight of Alan Dershowitz, a man whose infallibly consistent views on individual liberties as spelled out by the Constitution have put him in hot water with both the left and the right. Dershowitz's latest claim to infamy is being part of the O.J. defense team, but that tedious national spectacle ranks among the least interesting issues the man has tackled, both as a public defender and a nationally syndicated columnist. Dershowitz has gone on record defending the rights of convicted criminals and lambasting the phenomenon of legislating "hate crimes" as a fundamental bureaucratic intrusion into the minds of Americans; he champions the free speech of everyone from the politically and sexually disenfranchised to neo-Nazis and abhors the kind of anti-porn censorship he sees emanating from certain left-wing feminist quarters. As tireless a defender of unpopular causes as he is, he's gained the greatest amount of controversy by defending celebrity pariahs such as Simpson, Mike Tyson, Mike Milken, Claus von Bulow, and Leona Helmsley. Critics contend Dershowitz loves money much more than principle, which makes him the most fascinating part-time defender of the little guy on the scene right now. Alan Dershowitz speaks on "Hate, Speech, Political Correctness, and Censorship" as part of the Fort Worth Speakers Forum at 7:30 pm in the Ed Landreth Auditorium of Fort Worth's Texas Christian University. Tickets are $22. Call (214) 647-5700.
A Clockwork Orange: When Stanley Kubrick released his moody, starkly hallucinatory version of Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange, suddenly the themes and events that had been buried in the archaic, futuristic slang of a cult novel were dramatized for international moviegoers who'd never experienced such a violent story without benefit of a moral barometer. The "hero" in the film and the book was a self-absorbed, mercurial street punk who reveled in random acts of violence against strangers with the same passion that led him to masturbate to the classical European composers. While the shock value of Burgess' novel and Kubrick's film has dimmed somewhat over the decades, the significance of the story has not--at what point must bureaucracy crush an individual will in the name of society's greater good, and does that very process transform the government into the same brutal, inhuman terror it seeks to eliminate? Dallas-based Field Trip Productions hosts something of an event for Burgess fans--the second American theatrical production, and only the third production ever mounted worldwide, of this nihilistic, jet-black comedy about human nature and systematic control. State-of-the-art multimedia effects are promised to reinvigorate the shock of first discovering the book and film. Performances of A Clockwork Orange take place every Friday and Saturday at 8 pm through June 3 at the Arcadia, 2005 Greenville Ave. Tickets are $10-$15. For more information call 373-8000.
New Dances: The McKinney Avenue Contemporary continues its promise of importing to Dallas top national and international artists in various media, in an environment that falls somewhere between homey and state-of-the-art. Their latest big event is a rag-tag concert of dance performances by three of the most renowned U.S.-based international choreographers itching to try out some strange new stuff outside the harsh critical glare of New York and Los Angeles stages. This dance concert, with the appropriately simple title New Dances, falls somewhere between a rehearsal and a command performance, with three top names taking time off from prestigious projects to let loose with a few spontaneous moves. Kraig Patterson is a Columbia University dance instructor with a degree from Juilliard who works regularly with the Mark Morris Dance Group and is currently working with Mikhail Baryshnikov on a piece for Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project. Holly Williams is also a Mark Morris veteran, performing with him during his controversial three-year stint in Belgium, and currently spends her time developing Dallas dance and theatrical projects. Llory Wilson currently teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and spends half her year in Seattle, where she performs the work of international choreographers and develops her own movements for award-winning dance troupes in Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities. Kraig Patterson, Holly Williams, and Llory Wilson perform their new dances April 13 & 14 at 8 pm and April 15 at 2 & 8 pm at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 33120 McKinney Avenue. Tickets are $9-$12. For information call 520-ARTS.
The Story of the Book: Media watchdogs from Marshall "The Medium is the Message" McLuhan to Neal Postman have been warning us for decades that technology is not a one-way street--each time we create some new development in the communications sciences, that development in turn creates a profound change in us, as we tailor our daily lives, our personal habits, our expectations, our whole way of looking at the world according to what this technology provides that we've never had before. You need only look at the development of Gutenberg's printing press, which for the first time provided Biblical scriptures to largely uneducated masses who'd depended upon their priests to deliver the word of God. The mass-marketed printed word ranks right up there with fire as an innovation enabling individuals to take some semblance of control over their lives, and subsequently revolt against the educated elite who had for so long determined their fate. The Dallas Public Library presents From Clay Tablet to Compact Disc: The Story of the Book, an exhibit that chronicles the forms taken by written communication since before Jesus Christ up to now, when oodles of information can be stored on a shiny disc for which access, at this writing, is severely restricted to those with First-World economic resources. If the historical permanence of the printed word created all kinds of class upheavals, what will be the significance of the contemporary Information Age, in which thousands of ideas can be summoned and discarded in a nanosecond? The Story of the Book is on display through October 1 in the 7th Floor O'Hara Exhibit Hall of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young. It's free. Call 670-1789.
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Easter Egg Hunt: If your child thinks one of Jesus' miracles for the unbelievers was turning hard-boiled chicken eggs three different shades of primary colors, don't blame him or her--keeping religious tradition, commercialism, and American popular folklore separate is a job that's confounded scholars for the better part of the 20th century. The Dallas Arboretum promises not to plant any subversive thoughts that might emerge from the mouths of babes during Easter Sunday sermons, but they are sponsoring one of the largest easter egg hunts in the city that will be presided over by, yes, a fun-lovin' lupus resurrectus giganticus as well as Tom, the Tom Thumb Mascot with the Gene Simmons tongue. Over 25,000 toy-filled eggs are distributed across the Arboretum grounds in two different hunts at 1:30 and 3 pm. The hunts are divided by age groups that range up to 10. Admission is $3-$6, with the egg hunts included in the ticket. It's open from 10 am-6 pm and located at 8525 Garland Road near White Rock Lake. Call 324-9801.
Robert Wuthnow: You can't open a newspaper or magazine these days without reading how America has fallen headfirst into a love affair with fundamentalist Christianity. The influence of the politicized faithful stretches far beyond churches and rural town halls to dominate the committees of the Republican Party, the ruling Congressional force which must contend with folks who get testy when their "God-given" mandates for change are ignored by anyone, whether it be a Democratic Party eager to paint them as extremists or moderate Republicans who want to shuffle them off to the dusty corners where their moralistic ultimatums won't repel a fickle American electorate. Many have declared that a nationwide exodus to fundamentalism means a return to reliable old values, but has anyone stopped to consider how fundamentalism robs Christianity of its beauty, mystery, and poeticism by reducing complex Biblical precepts into a fussy, Junior League-ish set of club rules? As part of its 25th Annual Willis M. Tate-Willson Lectures series, Southern Methodist University invites Princeton University theologian Robert Wuthnow to speak about the resurgence of Christian activism. Wuthnow, a Pulitzer-nominated author of over 14 books, gives three different lectures on the topic--on April 18 at 8 pm he covers "The Waning of Religion?"; on April 19 at 1 pm he talks about "Religious Conflict and Common Ground"; and on April 20 at 1 pm he discusses "The Appeal of Fundamentalism." Robert Wuthnow gives three lectures in Room 210 of Selecman Hall, 5905 Bishop Blvd on the campus of Southern Methodist University. For admission information call 768-7650.
Paco Pena Flamenco Company: Spanish classical guitarist extraordinaire Paco Pena has earned countless awards from critics' groups and musical institutions for his commitment to keeping the tradition of his Latino roots alive, but the Dallas Classic Guitar Society invites Pena and his company of singers, dancers, and instrumentalists for a special performance secular American audiences rarely get to hear. Upon visiting Poland, Pena was asked for the first time to write an explicitly religious piece of music for a Catholic music festival. Suddenly, his mind was set afire with connections he'd never made before--that the flamenco song conveyed a deep yearning to its audience, a yearning for some place where human nature, human need, and humankind's concept of God converged. He created an extended work that drew upon Roman Catholic liturgy, but went far beyond. The Paco Pena Flamenco Company performs at 8 pm at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora. Tickets are $13-$50. Call 1-800-654-9545.
The Great Gay-Straight Debate: Although the last five years have seen an explosion of gay and lesbian stand-up comics, that dying tradition still favors hetero white men pontificating before legions of other hetero white men about the sorrows of being a hetero white man in a world that dares to consider other viewpoints. Comedy clubs nationwide, dwindling though they may be, are still among the last bastions of masculine heterosexist privilege where fag and dyke jokes can still be enjoyed. To be fair, comedy has always thrived on the exploitation of stereotypes, but too often in the routines of headliners-turned-stars such as Eddie Murphy and the late Sam Kinison, gay men and lesbians were reviled, not satirized. With the resurgence of poor-white-hetero-guy stand-up shtick, you'd expect a continuation of the same homo-bashing, but Jeff Wayne, one of the prime advocates of that already cliched medium, stands ready to address hetero vs. homo issues. Wayne, creator of the one-man show Big Daddy's Barbecue and star of his own comedy CD It's Okay to Be a White Male, faces off with Jason Stuart, a fellow whose own sold-out nationwide routines have relied too heavily on the same punchline--ain't it wacky being gay? Jason Stuart and Jeff Wayne perform their Great Debate every evening April 19-23 at The Improv, 4980 Belt Line. For time and ticket information call 404-0323.