With Russell Simmons bringing the bling to the political arena of the Dirty Third, Houston is finally getting its props as a major player in the rap game. H-town's hip-hop heads will have a chance to hobnob with rap politicos at the Hip-Hop Summit, where panelists such as Beyoncé, P. Diddy and David Banner (as well as Houston's own Scarface and Big Pokey) will discuss "Taking Back Responsibility." The first of these summits was organized by Minister Louis Farrakhan in Chicago in the late '90s as part of an effort to end the violent East Coast/West Coast beef. Simmons then joined hip-hop notables and political activists to form the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network in 2001. The mission: to encourage voter registration in communities with at-risk youths. So far, their efforts have been successful. At HSAN events in Detroit and Philadelphia alone, 28,000 people were registered to vote.
Brandon Allen, an organizer of the Houston event, thinks the HSAN is better able to connect with young people than other organizations. "I'm a young man, 27, and I see the NAACP as the voice of my parents' generation," he says. "Hip-hop is the voice of my generation."
Minister Robert Muhammad, a member of the host committee, hopes the star power doesn't outshine the cause. "If the organizers of the Hip-Hop Summit will help shape an agenda that will outlive the personalities of the superstars on the panel," he says, "then I'm certain that the goals of the Hip-Hop Summit will live on." Doors open at 9 a.m. Roundtable: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, January 31. Texas Southern University Arena, at the corner of Ennis and Wheeler. For information, call 713-737-8321 or visit www.hsan.org. Free with voter registration. -- Felicia Johnson-LeBlanc
Brian Montgomery is one macabre mofo. After hours of digging through death records and city annals, he's founded Houston Darkside Tours, an organization devoted to teaching the living about the dead heads of our city's past. He cuts through the mythical mumbo-jumbo and lays down the real history on his graveyard tour, where the surnames on the tombstones read like a catalog of Houston's founders: Allen, Taub, Westheimer and Meyer, to name a few. He'll even show you the site of a hidden cemetery. Here's a hint: It might be where your dogs do their dirty little business. 10:30 a.m. to noon daily. Founders' Memorial Park, 1217 West Dallas. For information, call 713-306-5914 or visit www.houstondarkside.com. $10. -- Keith Plocek
There's a lot more to the choreographic process than telling dancers what to do. It's an art -- a mix of planning, inspiration and hard work. And now choreographers have a new platform for talking about their craft. The Carolyn Grant Fay Dance Lecture Series at the Jung Center will feature talks by choreographers as well as Jungian analysts, who will discuss concepts such as shadow and anima figures and dream symbols. Dominic Walsh, artistic director of Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, will be the series' inaugural speaker. He'll be joined by Michele Lees, who will analyze Walsh's "Flames of Eros" and its connection to the god of love. 8 p.m. Thursday, January 29. 5200 Montrose. For information, call 713-524-8253 or visit www.cgjunghouston.org. $5. -- Christie Taylor
The Wolf God speaks for the trees
Princess Mononoke is Japan's highest-grossing film for good reason. The 1997 anime adventure is a morality tale about a warrior's quest to negotiate a truce between the owner of a mining town and the menacing Wolf God who opposes ecological encroachment. The hand-drawn animation might come off as workmanlike, but the coloration is superb on the wide screen. Besides, the emphasis is on storytelling rather than special effects, anyway. Voice actors include Billy Bob Thornton (if you saw his X-rated turn in Bad Santa, you might find his role here a little creepy) and Minnie Driver as the mining-town leader, Lady Eboshi. Kids will definitely dig the flick, but be ready for some blood-splattering. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 31. Room 2512 in the Bayou Building at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Boulevard. For information, call 281-283-2560. $1.50. -- Greg Barr
Andy Rooney has been closing out the CBS program 60 Minutes for 25 years with his witty takes on consumerism, America and, well"whatever gets his goat. His new book, Years of Minutes, is an illustrated collection of his best pieces from the most popular news program in history, including some of his sharpest investigative reports and toughest interviews. He's one of America's best-loved humorists, and his observations have kept us laughing for a quarter of a century. Meet the man in person, and maybe you can annoy him enough to get a mention in one of his rants. He'll be signing his book at 1 p.m. Saturday, January 31. Borders, 9633 Westheimer. For information, call 713-782-6006. Free. -- Matt Sonzala