Calling all artists, would-be artists, art patrons and general misfits. You're invited to contribute to the unpredictable energy cultivated at "Participate," a monthly gathering at the gallery Mind Puddles. At its debut last month, a wall-to-wall crowd of guests immersed themselves in bass-thumping tunes, art exhibits, dancing and performance art -- all heady accoutrements to the event's chatty networking, light nibbles and complimentary drinks. "Participate" is the brainchild of Navid Ghedami, local artist and Mind Puddles owner, whose steel sculptures and other works grace the Holocaust Museum Houston, Bayou Place and both La Strada restaurants. Ghedami wants to see more types of people joining in the Houston art scene. He compares art to wine, saying, "It can be intimidating if you don't know much about it. We want to reduce that intimidation for the artist and the art lover alike."
To lure in new participants, Ghedami and his co-conspirators, including DJ Milian Ortega and promoter Trae Browne (who also does promotions for the Houston Press), keep it simple and fun. They welcome anyone who has a love for music and art -- not to mention a good party. 8 p.m. Friday, July 16. 2305 Dunlavy. For information, call 713-529-6463 or visit www.mindpuddles.com. $10. -- Amy McGee
Mantra's Maui Martini
"Have you ever taken Valium before?" my dentist asked me in a professional, matter-of-fact tone. I suddenly flashed back to my years in San Francisco, where, after a grueling day at the restaurant, a couple of us would pop a V and sip pineapple shakes at the all-night diner; eventually someone would have to peel me off the floor. "I don't think so," I answered. The dentist handed me a prescription. "Test the dosage the day before so you'll know what you're comfortable with," she said. Just an hour later, I found myself sitting at the bar at Mantra (711 Main, 713-225-3500), cautiously ordering a Maui martini and wondering just how far this stunt would take me. The first half of the drink went down effortlessly. Mike behind the bar was rambling on to some of his bored co-workers: "Wa wa wa wa," their voices went, sounding like that teacher from the Peanuts cartoons. All around me I heard people talking, but I couldn't make out a word. Even worse, my throat was dry as hell, and I was suddenly aware of a nervous facial twitch, which I tried to hide with my trembling hand. "Are you all right, dude? Would you like another drink?" Mike asked. After figuring out what he was talking about, I said I would. Getting outside to a cab was going to be another story.
1-1/2 ounces Grey Goose vodka
3/4 ounce Hiram Walker Fruja Mango liqueur
1/4 ounce Rose's grenadine
Splash of orange juice
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and measure out booze and fruit juices. Shake vigorously and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with cherry. Best enjoyed without strong prescription drugs. -- J.W. Crooker
Joke and Toke
Riffing out loud on bad movies was something wisenheimers used to do at home. But the monthly "Theater of the Damned" series, hosted by the Young Urban Comedians' Club, is bringing trash-talking into the public domain. "We encourage what others deny in an audience: participation," says head demon Clifton Christian. The next damned title is Reefer Madness, the '30s cult classic that shows how a few innocent puffs can lead to sexual depravity, insanity and death. Officially, Christian says, "We have no control over the actions of the audience before they arrive." Unofficially, you should roll up a fatty and toke it beforehand. 8 p.m. Saturday, July 17. Aurora Picture Show, 800 Aurora. For information, call 832-630-5828 or visit www.theaterofthedamned.com. $5. -- Bob Ruggiero
Master of Spin
"I play progressive house and tribal house," says DJ Luis Carreon, who just started a weekly residency at Thermal. "My style is mainly dance, and that's what I want to promote." So don't even bother trying to get him to play something else. "I had a guy come up to me and ask me if I could put on Garth Brooks," says Carreon. "And I looked at him and said, 'I don't think Garth Brooks presses on vinyl, man.'" Actually, we just so happen to know that Garth does put out actual records -- um, yeah, our, um, friend told us about it -- but we admire Carreon's diplomacy. He spins from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays. 1601 Commerce. For information, call 713-228-2800. Free. -- Keith Plocek