Jerome Vielman seems to be equal parts Allen Ginsberg, Elvis and Bert Parks, if that triumvirate were born Filipino, raised in New Orleans and schooled at New York University. That's where Vielman, 25, first was exposed to top-notch spoken word. He's still jumping around about it, like a saint on good speed. Last April, Vielman started "Meeting of the Minds Lounge," which just might be the freshest spoken-word event in town. It happens every other Sunday at the Warehouse District's Industry Cafe. But Vielman says he's not attempting to bring New York to Houston, he's "trying to help make Houston better than New York."
The five-piece MOTM Lounge band (scratch DJ, bass, guitar, drums and congos) backs up the poets. "The musicians are here to feed off the poets," says Vielman. The band, which includes the rhythm section from PHUZ, is tight, soft and flexible. Horn players routinely sit in.
The environment at Industry Cafe is perfect for an evening of spoken word. Set up like a basic living room, the club features low couches and comfy chairs surrounded by a dozen coffee tables, none of which match. When guests get inspired, they're welcome to take the mike. Vielman has just one request: "I ask that you deliver your poetry with passion and conviction."
The sixth MOTM Lounge session starts at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 22, but there's no point in arriving before 8 p.m. Vielman runs his show on Filipino time. Just ask him. He'll be the guy moving furniture while carrying on at least two conversations. Industry Cafe, 2110 Rusk. For information, call 713-222-2233. This week's cover benefits the Houston Poetry Slam Team. $5. -- Scott Nowell
Man Versus Nature
As urban sprawl spreads across the earth, pristine wilderness is getting harder and harder to come by. While artist Janaki Lennie laments encroachments upon nature, he's also fascinated by our soaring freeways -- "cathedrals to modernity" -- and the strange colors pollution creates in the night sky. His works combine images from the two realms; one depicts both telephone lines and tree branches. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays at ArtScan Gallery/Rudolph Projects, Vine Street Studios, 113 Vine Street, space 201. For information, call 713-224-7722 or visit www.rudolphprojects.com. -- Cathy Matusow
While this Saturday's "Fête de la Musique et de la Lumière" has the potential to reach staggering heights of pretension, it might also be a sensual gas. And anyway, pretense is horribly underrated. One must acquire a taste. The multimedia, interactive event, which blends music, visual art and film, is co-produced by Microcinema International and the Cultural Office of the French Consul. The quirky denizens of Commerce Street Artists Warehouse will exhibit light-generating contraptions (lamps); the Space City Gamelan Group will provide a percussive soundtrack (expect lots of things that go gong and chime); and Microcinema International will screen short films selected by Parisians and Londoners. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 21. Commerce Street Artists Warehouse, 2315 Commerce Street. For information, call 713-412-5120. $5. -- Troy Schulze
If only we could send all the world's enemies on a little vacation together so they could bond, Real World-style. In Fire Within, documentary filmmaker Richard Berman follows a group of young Israeli Arab Muslims, Israeli Jews and American Jews on a trip to Spain. There, they visit ancient sites from a time when Jews, Muslims and Christians coexisted peacefully. The trip isn't all hugs and epiphanies, of course, but rest assured that by the end, friendships are formed and new understandings reached. There will be screenings of a ten-minute segment of the film every half-hour from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, June 19. An exhibition of Berman's photographs will be on view through Thursday, June 26. Deutser Art Gallery, Jewish Community Center of Houston, 5601 South Braeswood Boulevard. For information, call 713-729-3200. Free. -- Cathy Matusow
Jesus and Hip-hop
More than 300 people attended last year's inaugural Houston Holy Hip-Hop Achievement Awards, so a sequel is only natural. This Saturday, Liberty Rival Church hosts the three-hour gala, with "hip-hop workshops" during the day. Among them, the most eye-catching are "Why They Don't Wanna Play Me? -- How to Get Your Record on Radio" and "They Can't Hear the WORD If They Can't Hear the Words -- Getting the Most Out of Your Performance." If you're one of those rappers who'll ride-or-die only for the Lord, this one's for you. Awards ceremony: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Workshops: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 21. 16200 State Highway 249. For information, call 281-866-0202, extension 113. $10 ceremony; $8 workshops. -- Craig D. Lindsey