Press Picks

february 10
More than Just Slaves The second workshop in a four-part series presented by Imam Haywood S. Talib of the Sister Clara Muhammad School. Talib will describe African-American achievements in our history. These workshops are a small part of the schedule for the Houston Public Library's salute to Black History Month. More than Just Slaves will be presented from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Mancuso branch, 6767 Bellfort, 644-1878. On this day the library also offers African drummer Moremi Nodikoane, at 4 p.m. at the Alief regional branch, 7979 S. Kirkwood, 568-3330. Anita Bunkley will discuss her book Emily, the Yellow Rose and a forthcoming work, Black Gold, about African-American contributions in the oil patch, 7 p.m., Robinson-Westchase, 3223 Wilcrest, 784-0987. Storytime at the Hillendahl branch features works by black authors at 7 p.m., 2436 Gessner, 467-9090. These delightful, educational events are free -- your tax dollars at work -- and quite a bargain. For more information about these and other activities, call the Houston Public Library at 236-1313.

february 11
Black and Single Larry Davis will discuss his book, Black and Single: Meeting and Choosing a Partner Who's Right for You, at this book-signing and social. The idea of this meeting is, according to the author, to "find out about your romantic market; choosing a partner, liking, loving, and lusting and so much more." Davis's chapter titles alone are intriguing -- "Sex: when, why and with whom," "Dating White" and, our own pet personal favorite, "Between Dates: down time ain't necessarily a bad time." Davis mentions discouraging facts: stats on African-American divorce, stats on the economic status of African-American men and stats on available African-American men. His message, though, is positive. He says: "I could probably sell more books if I disparaged black men, since black women are most of my readership. But I don't want to do that. It isn't helping anyone." Davis has very carefully written a book which, alone among the clutter of self-help texts, addresses specific problems of black single life.

One thing, in Davis's opinion, that makes black single life different is that black single life affects black life. Single-parent families, Davis notes, start with bad relationships. He wants a strong black America, and, he says, "it all starts with relationships."

(It also seems that -- while this social is for a special crowd -- Davis's book, which speaks so clearly about unreasonable expectations and romantic myths, could be enlightening to singles of any hue.)

The book social will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore and Cultural Center, 5309 M.L.K. Blvd., 645-1071 or 645-1160.

Dance Times Two The Society for the Performing Arts presents two major Texas companies on the same bill. Yacov Sharir and Ann Williams, artistic directors of Sharir Dance Company and the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, will give a pre-curtain talk and will answer questions before the performance.

Sharir will perform Houston premieres of two works -- Witness and More about Love. DBDT is a modern dance company with a repertory of modern, jazz, ethnic and spiritual works. Two of the three works DBDT will dance in Houston are brand-new -- Into the Labyrinth and Homage to the Source: Africa. Homage -- a 25-minute African suite with drumming, poetry and singing -- is the spectacular finale.

Pre-curtain talk 7:30, performance 8 p.m. at the Cullen Theater in the Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $14-$22.

february 12
Class Houston actor, playwright and director Franklin J. Anderson offers his new two-act play as a Valentine's gift. The cast for this production comes from the Ensemble Theatre -- the oldest still-performing black theater in the Southwest. The "class" discussed in these two acts is of two kinds: the class of a natural aristocrat, and the class one can buy at the right schools. Only this one performance is scheduled right now, but expect to see the love story of Clarence Weatherspoon and Emma Jean Davis on another Houston stage soon. Of course, this is the only chance to see Class with your valentine. 8 p.m. Kaplan Theater, Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 438-1062. $12.

Through the Dark Nightly Those who remember the mid-'70s release of the folk album Through the Dark Nightly might think that having a party at this late date is a bit odd. Think again. This special performance celebrates Anderson Fair's long life as a showcase for songwriters and reunites the recording artists (not that they haven't seen each other from time to time, the folk/bluegrass/mallbillie music world being tight-knit and all). Lynn Langham is down from Nashville; Stephen Jarrard, Bill Cade and Don Sanders join her onstage.

Sanders has been around a while, and fans may recall his songs about demon rum and hard livin' and all -- or they may recall "Heavy Word Lover," a tune about what great lovers English majors are. Eric Taylor will be on hand too, and while we don't know that he'll sing it, Taylor did write "Fat Babies Have No Pride," a sing-along written with Lyle Lovett to discourage the odious practice of sing-alongs. The theory is that lines like "Fat baby drooling" and other descriptions of disgusting infant behavior wouldn't work for a jolly chorale. In practice, the refrain -- "I like you 'cause you like me and you don't like much" -- is the kind of pure and holy truth that makes country-and-western-type music the pinnacle of human expression. Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant Street (behind Texas Art Supply), 664-7331. $10.

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