Press Picks

thursday
june 19
Eat Out & Chip In Too often, making the world a better place requires you to perform some bothersome volunteer activity or, worse, to contribute actual money. But for a limited time only, would-be do-gooders are in luck: The Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS has devised a scheme by which you can combat that disease in an entirely pleasurable way: by dining at the right restaurants. Approximately 40 Houston eateries -- including This Is It, benjy's, Treebeard's, Toopees, Brasil and Armando's -- will donate a portion of today's sales to DIFFA. For a complete list of participating restaurants, call DIFFA/Houston at 552-9445.

Old-Fashioned Like-It-Used-to-Be Juneteenth Celebration For the second year, Harris County Precinct One and County Commissioner El Franco Lee celebrate the day Texas slaves heard about emancipation. From 11 a.m. till noon, Bob Lee ("Da Mayor" of Fifth Ward) will talk about slave humor, and historian Patricia Prather will recap the holiday's history. At noon, a traditional lunch -- barbecue and watermelon -- will be served, accompanied by blues recordings from the '40s and '50s. Kashmere Annex, 3815 Cavalcade. Free, as long as the food holds out.

Crisol The Afro-Cuban jazz group led by Texan Roy Hargrove makes an early stop on its tour to promote its new album, Habana. 7:30 p.m. Cullen Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, 629-3700. $21-$33. Proceeds benefit the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center.

The Woman in Black For eight years, this ghost story has haunted London. Now Houston theatergoers have the same chance to scare themselves silly, watching as a middle-aged Englishman tries to revive a faded memory -- one perhaps better left repressed. London's Daily Mail called the play "a darkly glittering rarity -- a genuine thriller." Opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. (See Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes.) $10-$15. Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Blvd., 524-6706.

The Gap Band Like every tobacco company that plasters its name on entertainment events, Benson & Hedges claims that its sponsorship of "100 Nights Live!," a summertime series of low-priced music, is designed "to enhance brand awareness and recognition among adults who smoke." But judging from the lineup, B&H really does mean "adults": Does anyone under 30 remember the Barkays? Morris Day and the Time? Or tonight's act, the Gap Band? In case you're drawing a blank: The R&B group's hits include "Shake," "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," and "Oops Upside Your Head." And you might've heard their riffs sampled by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg. Ah, immortality. 10:30 p.m. Club Phoenix, 64 Woodlake Square, 977-0100. $12. The series continues through July 5. Smoking, of course, will be allowed.

friday
june 20
Puro Gallo rally In his lithographs and prints, Joe Luis Lopez often depicts roosters, obvious symbols of masculine strutting and crowing. He labels his poster-ish cocks of the walk "Puro Gallo" -- Spanish for "pure rooster." But somewhere, something got lost in translation, and in a fit of corporate strutting and crowing, Gallo Wines sued Lopez over his use of the word "gallo." Today, pro-Lopez picketers will demonstrate outside stores selling Gallo wines. And this evening, Casa Ramirez Folkart Gallery and Velia's Cafe host a fiesta and rally, with Lopez in attendance and live Latin pop and salsa by Ten Tazion. The rally's 6-9 p.m. at Velia's Cafe, 2910 Navigation, 228-3542; $5 suggested contribution (to benefit Lopez's legal defense fund). The artist's lithographs, greeting cards and T-shirts are also on display through July 14 at Casa Ramirez Gallery, 239 W. 19th St., 880-2420. Look for picketers at a grocery store near you.

Cotton Patch Gospel Think Jesus Christ, Supercracker. In the '70s, playwright Tom Key adapted the works of Clarence Jordan, who transposed the books of Matthew and John to backwoods Georgia; eventually, Harry Chapin added a bluegrass score. Now, 18 years after the musical was a hit in New York, the A.D. Players have resurrected it. The Lord of Lords, King of Kings is born in an abandoned trailer, John the Baptizer preaches fire and brimstone and Governor Herod arranges a lynching. Pray that Christ -- and the South -- will rise again. Opens at 8 p.m. tonight (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). Grace Theater, 2710 W. Alabama, 526-2721. $19.

Pumped Up on Art Yes, darling, you've long been fixated on the shoes of the supervixens. And now's your chance to own a pair once graced by a camp icon. Tonight the bugle-beaded glitterati will bid on footwear previously worn by drag queen favorites such as Julie Andrews, Fran Drescher, Julie Newmar and Elizabeth Taylor. But even if you buy the stars' high heels, don't think for a minute that you can put yourself in their shoes. Local artists have transformed the autographed pumps into works of art -- "fabulous" works of art, we're assured. Auction proceeds benefit the Pride Committee of Houston. 7 p.m. The Majestic Metro, 911 Preston, 529-6979. $30. Formal or semi-formal attire.

saturday
june 21
Butterfly Count This morning, the birders of the Houston Audubon Society turn their field glasses to another variety of winged creature: butterflies. Count leader P.D. Hulce explains that butterflies act as a kind of early-warning system for the environment; if the fluttering nectar-suckers are in trouble, so are we all. To help with the census at Brazos Bend State Park, show up with bug spray, binoculars and lunch at 7:30 a.m. (yes, a.m.). Elm Lake at Brazos Bend State Park. $2.50. For directions and more information, call Hulce at 863-1142.

Black Skimmer Open House Usually, these rare seabirds nest at wild waterfront properties such as sandbars and oyster-reef outcroppings. But in 1968, a colony settled at a crushed-shell parking lot at the Dow Chemical Company complex in Freeport -- and, supported by Dow volunteers, they thrived there. This morning, you're invited to check out this unlikely nature preserve. Keep an eye out for baby skimmers; they're the gray downy ones. 9 a.m.-noon. To reach Dow's Plant A, follow S.H. 288/332 through Lake Jackson and Clute toward Surfside. Stay on S.H. 332 and turn right at the light onto F.M. 523. After crossing the Dow barge canal, turn left at the light. For more information, call Pat Kuchar at (409) 238-9610. Free.

Success 1997 Hey, you. Yeah, you. Are you rich yet? Have you achieved everything you ever dreamed of? Do you live every moment to its absolute fullest? Well, dammit, it's your own fault. But help is on the way: The top -- absolute TOP -- motivational speakers in America promise to propel you off your flabby duff and instill in you a can-do, go-get-'em attitude that will revolutionize your life. An all-star lineup -- including Zig Ziglar, Peter Lowe, Elizabeth Dole, Larry King, Christopher Reeve, Colin Powell and Hakeem Olajuwon -- will mouth platitudes live and in person. 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. The Summit, 10 Greenway Plaza. $225 at the door; $69-$89 if ordered ahead of time by telephone, (800)689-6961. Check your ironic detachment at the entrance

Bayou Bash The ninth annual Louisiana-style festival includes performances by Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, the Lee Benoit Cajun Band, Rockin' Sydney Simien and headliner Joe "King" Carrasco. Besides the usual festival accouterments -- arts 'n' crafts, a caricature artist, face-painting -- you can also expect food of varying Cajun authenticity: boiled crawfish, jambalaya, fried alligator, pork kabobs and those inescapable "bloomin' " onions. 2-10 p.m. The Astrohall, 8400 Kirby. $4; children 12 and under free if accompanied by an adult.

Steeleye Span Given the global spread of Celtic folk-rock, the idea of tracing the form's roots back to its genesis might seem a futile exercise. But like Adam and Eve, a pair of English bands hold title to the music, and one of them, Steeleye Span, is still layering electrons on traditional material almost three decades later. Though a couple of original members have moved along, the band is still fronted by the indomitable Maddy Prior, one of the brightest voices in music, period. She's joined by founding member Gay Woods, whose recent return to Steeleye gives the band a one-two women's vocal punch that Don King would admire. They and their rollicking cohorts prove once again that life actually begins at 200. Joining Steeleye Span at the Second Annual Midsummer Festival are several local Span spawn, with plenty of grog to quaff and other appropriate diversions available. At Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan, 880-1065. Doors open at 4 p.m.; Steeleye performs at 8:30. $14.

Blunt Masta Classic "Strictly for your vibin' pleasure," deejays such as MC Kool B, DJ Prince Ra and DJ Ben-Ha-Meen (all the way from D.C.) will spin acid jazz, spoken word, hip-hop, roots, jungle and house music. Plus fashion shows of urban gear and "natural" hairstyles -- braids, twists and locks. 9 p.m.dawn. Waxx Museum, 1601 Leeland, 650-5799. $10, 21 and over only.

sunday
june 22
Clifton Chenier Zydeco Tribute "The King of Zydeco" died almost a decade ago, but his music lives on in hard-rocking, Grammy-winning recordings -- and in this annual tribute. Mary Thomas, Clifton's sister and host of KPFT's zydeco show, hosts this afternoon celebration, and Leo Thomas and his Louisiana Zydeco Band provide the necessary dance music. 5-9 p.m. Shakespeare Pub, 14129 Memorial Drive, (281)497-4625. $5 cover charge includes a barbecue dinner.

monday
june 23
Kim Coles If you like the babe-licious actress as Synclaire on Living Single, you'll also like her new book, I'm Free But It'll Cost You: The Single Life According to Kim Coles. Her advice to the lovelorn cries out for a Fox Network laugh track. Want to get rid of a guy without hurting his feelings? Coles suggests these lines: 1) "I think personal hygiene is overrated." 2) "Would you like to buy a Watchtower?" 3) "I'll be right back; I have to change my tampon." Coles will deliver other such insights and sign books 6-8 p.m. at Nia Gallery and Bookshop, 7725 W. Bellfort, 729-8400. Basking in Coles's presence is free; the hardback costs $18.95.

Bharati Mukherjee Perhaps you've read Mukherjee's The Middleman and Other Stories, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; or maybe her novel Jasmine, about a young Indian woman's grappling with scary American freedoms. Tonight Mukherjee reads from her new novel, Leave It to Me. 7 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. Basking in the glow of high literature is free; the hardback costs $23.

tuesday
june 24
Two-for-one spaying "In heat" can be taken literally: Summer is peak breeding season for dogs and cats. To combat pet overpopulation, every Tuesday through July, the Fund for Animals Spay & Neuter Clinic will desex two of your beasts for the price of one. Operations for two male cats will cost a mere $15; for two females, $25. Two male dogs, $25; two females, $30. 1603 Shepherd Drive. To make an appointment, call 863-0010.

wednesday
june 25
Robert Schimmel "Sex is on the forefront and backfront of everyone's mind," says the standup comedian -- and it's also on the forefront, backfront and in-between tracks of his new CD, Robert Schimmel Comes Clean. That collection of stage bits, like his live act, overflows with f-words, p-words, c-words and more. The more tasteful moments include a fake ad for "Pina Colada Dick Mist" and a meditation on vibrating butt plugs. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Rockefeller's, 3620 Washington Ave, 869-8427. $17.50.

The Paladins The British music mags are mad for these California roots-rockers; the critics compare the band variously to Los Lobos, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and (our favorite) Jimi Hendrix, if Hendrix had toyed with country music. The sideburned trio are said to be at their best on the road, and they have the odometer to prove it: Their latest album, Million Mile Club, was named after their Chrysler van reached that mark. The Teddy Boys open at 10; Paladins at 11 p.m. The Blue Iguana, 903 Richmond (at Montrose), 523-

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