You gotta love the folks over at Lawndale Art Center. Not only do they, time and time again, showcase excellent local and national talent in the visual arts, they also know how to throw one helluva party. Today they're cleaning off their paintbrushes and basting some barbecue for Late Night at Lawndale. Five bucks will get you all the smoked sinew you can eat, not to mention the keg of beer that seems to be ubiquitous at the gallery's events. Once you're well fed and slightly sloshed, you can sit back and watch a screening of Microcinema International featuring several short films of note, including The Drowning Room by Reynold Reynolds. It's a series of domestic vignettes filmed in a flooded house in the sunken suburbs. Dive on in. 8 p.m. 4912 Main. For information, call 713-528-5858 or visit www.lawndaleartcenter.org. $5 for food and drink; free screening.
Friday, March 19
If you don't think you're familiar with Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, chances are you're dead wrong. The rhythmic, repetitive, chanting intro to this choral masterwork pops up everywhere. It even had a good run a few years ago in a commercial for the U.S. Marines. You know the one we're talking about: A gallant knight on a gigantic chessboard vanquishes foe after foe, only to become a proud soldier at the end. The few, the proud, the symphony. 8 p.m. today and Saturday, March 20. 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 21. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit www.houstonsymphony.org. $35 to $80.
Saturday, March 20
Those bazaar people sure have a weird way of describing things. Flea markets have nothing to do with blood-sucking insects, and there's practically no swapping going on at a swap meet, unless, of course, you count swapping merchandise for greenbacks. Car lovers will want to bring plenty of the latter to Traders Village this weekend for its annual Auto Swap Meet. "There will be over 800 swap meet dealers on hand with over one million car parts and accessories, plus all types of classic and antique cars and trucks on display," says Lee Blanton, the local director of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, the organization responsible for the event. As always, swapping spit with your date is free. 8 a.m. to dusk, today and Sunday, March 21. 7979 North Eldridge. For information, call 281-890-5500 or visit www.tradersvillage.com. $2 parking.
Sunday, March 21
That 1 Guy is a one-man band with a name that could've come straight out of a vaudeville skit. Who? That 1 Guy. Which guy? That 1 Guy! Played-out Laurel-and-Hardy gags aside, That 1 Guy is Mike Silverman, a classically trained musician who plays a seven-foot-long mutant instrument he fondly refers to as "the Magic Pipe." Like many a magic pipe before it, this contraption was built from Home Depot plumbing materials, to which Silverman added a few musical gadgets. "It started out as an experiment to see how much I could do all by myself," he says. The experiment continues this weekend at AstroWorld, where you can expect him to perform some of his funkiest bass-driven songs, including "Weasel Potpie," "Steamin' Hunks of Hot Love Chunks" and "Raining Meat." What? 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. today and Saturday, March 20. 9001 Kirby. For information, call 713-799-1234 or visit www.sixflags.com. $25 to $42 admission to the park.
For someone who's never exhibited his photographs in public before, Alvaro Leiva has an amazing body of work. The Madrid-based photographer traveled the world and snapped some of its greatest rivers: the Ganges, the Amazon, the Niger and the Mississippi. Less concerned with the actual bodies of water than with the people who populate them, Leiva captures his diverse subjects in all their candor: children jumping into the Ganges, Colombian soldiers searching for drugs on the Amazon and women bashing millet on the Niger, to name a few. "The River People" features 99 of his stunning photos. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, through April 9. The Department of Visual Arts Gallery at Rice University, entrance no. 8 (off University Boulevard). For information, call 713-348-4815 or visit www.rice.edu. Free.
Tuesday, March 23
In celebration of Graywolf Press's 30th anniversary, five Houston-based poets will read tonight at Brazos Bookstore. Tony Hoagland is one of them. This University of Houston professor definitely has a delicate touch with the written word, but, as he writes in one of his poems, "there's something democratic / about being the occasional asshole." Also on hand will be Mark Doty, Nick Flynn, Matthea Harvey and Monica Youn. 7:30 p.m. 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit www.brazosbookstore.com. Free.
Or maybe discussions of religious pederasty are more your cup of tea. Jason Berry is one of the authors of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II, a book with a simple enough premise: The pope encouraged a cult of secrecy regarding the dirty little secrets of Catholic priests (you know what we're talking about). Berry will speak about his research tonight at the University of Houston Law Center. As if Mel Gibson's latest film weren't enough to make you think Catholics are a little freaky. 7 p.m. Entrance no. 19 (off Calhoun). For information, call 713-743-2201. Free.
Wednesday, March 24
Although not official, Mo Mong is the de facto place to be for the gay scene on Wednesday nights. Well, at least for the moment. You never know when the pink tide will choose to wash up on a different shore, so you'd better put on your Prada and head over there tonight. You'll dine on some of the best fusion in town (Vietnamese fajitas, anyone?), sip on fab $2 well martinis and muse over the current photographic exhibition by Wendy Levine. Oh, yeah, and there a tons of cute boys there, too. No reservations are required, but come morning, you might wish you'd had them. 1201 Westheimer. For information, call 713-524-5664. Free.