The Smithereens Goateed Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio writes and plays songs (e.g. "Baby, Be Good") that sound a whole heck of a lot like the Beatles. Take that either as evidence that the Smithereens are pasty pop apes with a ripped-off jangly Rickenbacker sound, or as proof that they are honest, simple-hearted troubadours with Gibsons who just happen to have a style mostly heard before. The band is touring for A Date with the Smithereens, a title that suggests they find their pop image fun. After 14 years together, they're billing themselves as "still a Jersey garage band," which would suggest that not much has changed, although the frontman has a little baby girl and carries her photo in his wallet. Aqua Blue Bar, 10531 Gulf Freeway, 941-0122. $8 over 21, $10 ages 1821.
Romania, Transylvania and Other Things Today brings a double feature from Romanian poet, road scholar and NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu. Shortly after noon, the fearless essayist will be signing books at the Bookstop on Shepherd. Two of his recent publications will probably be available for purchase and will likely top the list for signing: The Muse Is Always Half-Dressed in New Orleans -- a collection of NPR pieces -- and The Hole in the Flag: A Romanian Exile's Story of Return and Revolution. Folks who have copies of any of his other books (such as Raised by Puppets Only to Be Killed by Research) or Exquisite Corpse, the literary journal he edits, should take them.
But Codrescu's main reason for stopping in Houston is a speaking engagement. In his stereotypical distracted professor's mumble and his own charming accent, the perpetually bemused little man explains, "This event is sponsored by the Unitarians, whose religion began in Transylvania in the 16th century, about ten minutes before I was born. I just would like to talk about the region and the current ways in which people get, or don't get, along with each other there." This speaking engagement, Romania, Transylvania and Other Things, will help raise money to fix the roof of the First Unitarian Universalist Church. 8 p.m. Episcopal High School, 4621 Fournace. $15, $10 seniors and students.
Me and the Boys Hip Hop Comedy Stop co-owner and emcee Rushion McDonald will soon be off to L.A., where he and J. Anthony Brown will be writers for the new ABC sitcom Me and the Boys. Back here in Houston, the show's star, Steve Harvey, joins the writers for a series of special comedy shows this weekend. (Don't worry, David Raibon will remain to host the Thursday night 102 JAMZ.) Two shows Friday, three shows Saturday and two shows Sunday. Tonight, 8:30 and 10:45. Hip Hop Comedy Stop, 4816 Main, 437-8444. $13.50 advance, $15 at door.
Art Installation Opening and Performance School's out, so schoolteacher/regurgatomime Jim Pirtle has a little extra time to entertain art fans. Pirtle has described tonight's performance at the River Oaks Three theater, which opens his art exhibit there, as lacking the use of bodily fluids. Pirtle gave only sketchy details to RO3 management, but manager Joel K. Orr is confident that the performance will be just the thing for the stalwart patrons of the RO3. "It can't be any worse," the jaded young manager said, "than Rocky Horror."
The cafe at the River Oaks classic repertory cinema theater has long been an alternative space for artings, but the openings aren't usually this spectacular. Pirtle's exhibit features his paintings -- oil on polyester shirts sewn to sheets. Tonight's opening offers, according to Orr, "a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a truly unnerving cinematic experience." After the last movie of the evening, ten or more 8-mm projectors will be set up in the large auditorium, and Pirtle will present a giant on-screen collage performance piece. The audience will get free popcorn (the finest fluffy yellow coconut-oil-popped movie popcorn in the city) and soda. Around midnight. River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray, 524-2175. Free.
America's First Cat It's not Socks -- he's just a lame old substandard, free-out-of-the-back-of-a-station-wagon-in-the-Piggly-Wiggly-parking-lot runt. The Maine coon cat, however, is a proud and noble breed, 'bout as big as a bear. These rugged, long-haired cats hail from the upper East Coast and maybe kept rats and mice from the corn and grains used in the first Thanksgiving. Maybe Thomas Paine had a Maine coon cat. Some of the exact details of their origin are hard to pin down, but it is known that these heavyweight, unflappable house- and barn-cats were recognized as a type and were valued early in this nation's history.
The Texas Maine Coonfederacy Cat Club, a member of the International Cat Association, is sponsoring a show for both championship cats and household cats, with a couple hundred felines from all walks of life -- Maine coon cats included. The show will be a fine place to pick up informative brochures about cat care and animal control regulations, spay and neuter programs, and breeds you might be considering as a pet. (It's Adopt-a-Cat and Alter-a-Cat-For-Free month at the Houston Humane Society, 433-6421.) 10 a.m.4 p.m. today and Sunday, Deer Park Activity Center, 500 West 13th Street, Deer Park, 474-3602. $3, $2 seniors and children.
C'mon Get Happy Even as Nick at Night brings back the The Partridge Family, David Cassidy comes to town. (Nick at Night has not, I repeat not, dumped The Bob Newhart Show to make room for the adventures of the Partridges.) Originally, we watched during the innocent '70s, and we bought lunch boxes with nary a thought of what might become of the bell-bottomed clan.
Here we are in the '90s, and Susan Dey, the talentless muppet who played Laurie, managed to have some sort of career -- both co-starring in Looker with Albert Finney and having a series -- but not without first making cable movies with Tom Hulce. Danny Bonaduce was briefly a DJ, then a blip on the standup screen, and now he has an infomercial. The small fry vanished almost without a trace, and Shirley Jones went back to being Shirley Jones. But what of the star of the show, the Tiger Beat hero, the scrawny Adonis in a shag haircut? After the show, David Cassidy's pop-pop-popularity waned in the States. All one heard was the occasional report from England and the Continent, where, it seemed, he still had a song he was singing (and, as was hinted in the tabloids, an occasional paternity suit). Greg Brady told all, and now we find out what road trips in that bus were really like. David Cassidy will be autographing his new book, C'mon Get Happy, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Supercrown River Oaks, 1953 West Gray, 527-8283. Free.
Pride Parade and Rally Pretty much an all-day party this, so make plans to take a cab, or assign designated drivers. The Lesbian & Gay Pride Week 1994 Parade itself begins on lower Westheimer, at Woodhead, and wends its way toward town. That's only the beginning: after-Pride parties are planned at all the expected venues -- Heaven, J.R.'s, Montrose Mining Company, Pacific Street -- and a "Free, Gay and Happy: The Nellie Ribbons Encore Party" with special guest Sabrina Johnston at Rich's, at 7 p.m.
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Parade-goers can head directly to the bars, or take shuttle buses to the rally on Buffalo Bayou, in Buffalo Bayou Park. The entertainment is non-stop. Nancy Ford, "Queen of the Lesbians," is on the bill with Mr. Gay All-America 1993, E.J. White. The Tri-Angles skydiving team may drop in, the Community Gospel Praise Team will testify, the Gay Men's Chorus of Houston will sing, politicians will speak. During the Pride Week awards ceremony, which Steven Bradley will host, county treasurer Katy Caldwell, comptroller George Greanias and City Council at-large member Sheila Jackson Lee will address the crowd. To get the mood festive again, this speechifying will be followed by a special select presentation (a tease, really) from The Group's production of Closets: A Stonewall Celebration. And, the Pride Week rally on the 25th anniversary of Stonewall ends with a huge fireworks display. First, have brunch with your own. Then show up early for a good spot along the route of the parade, which begins at 1 p.m. Stroll or take a shuttle bus (stops at Waugh & Westheimer and Crocker at Pacific) to the park, party from 4:40 until 9:30 p.m., and the rest of the night is yours. If you have any questions at all -- questions such as, "How do I get a copy of the 1994 Pride Parade video since, unfortunately, I had to be out of town that day?" -- call 529-6979.
Juneteenth Gospel Extravaganza For the 12th time, the celebration starts a bit ahead of the calendar. The National Emancipation Association's "Juneteenth Freedom Festival" is next weekend, but the singing begins this week. Miller Outdoor Theater will be alive with the sounds of celebration for nine evenings. (The Sum Arts Blues Festival runs Thu.Sat., June 911, at 7 p.m.) Sunday and tonight, the audience in the pavilion and on the hillside will hear sacred music. Families are, of course, more than encouraged to spend the afternoon before the concert picnicking in the park. The gospel show is free (and so are the other Juneteenth celebrations in Hermann Park). Tickets are required for the 1,582 seats in the pavilion. These tickets are available from 11:301 p.m. the day of a show. Special arrangements for handicapped seating can be made by calling 520-3292. Gospel Extravaganza, 7:30 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theater, Hermann Park. Free admittance.
Tyke Hike A dream come true for children three and four years old: a walk through something new with someone to answer all their questions. One adult must accompany each child, but that adult won't have too much work to do. Just drive there and back, and keep upright during the walk. An arboretum naturalist will lead the way through the woods and give a tyke-specific lecture about the scenery. If adults want to take kids into the discovery room, or to stroll by the arrow-wood pond to peek at tadpoles tadding (best view: lying on your stomach on the wooden deck), or see prairie flowers in the Bird & Butterfly garden, well, that's their call. Tyke Hikes are offered Tuesdays, 12 p.m. (The Arboretum also has programs for other age groups, including adults.) Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway, 681-8433. $2.
Say YES to Families The school year is at an end, but HISD is still at work. The art exhibit "Say YES to Families -- A Multimedia Celebration of Family" grew out of Say YES, an HISD project designed by the National Urban Coalition that helps multi-ethnic children do well in and enjoy math and science by providing Saturday morning class time for children and their parents. Say YES has projects in 16 HISD schools, plus schools in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans. The art exhibit, suggested by several Say YES families, celebrates the environment of learning. More than 100 families produced art symbolizing family, home life and roots. The children and their families put together drawings, diaries, tape recordings and videos telling their stories about being caring families. Photos by famed artist Earlie Hudnall, who has been chronicling the Say YES project for years, are also part of the show. The art exhibit will be on view thru June 25. Tues.Sat., 10 a.m.5 p.m. Community Artists' Collective, 1501 Elgin (at LaBranch), 523-1616.