Press Picks

june 16
SIRE Self-Improvement through Riding Education is a nonprofit group that gives mentally and physically challenged children the chance to rise above ordinary mortals and go riding merrily along, on horseback. The group's second annual "Run for the Roses" fundraiser features country and western dancing so guests can enjoy themselves in a cowboy way. Barbecue is the catered grub, and the auctions (silent and live) will be held in the saddle-pal environs of Tin Hall. Dinner 6 p.m. Dancing 9 p.m.midnight.TinHall,14800 Huffmeister. Call 351-0023 for more details. Individual tickets cost a quite reasonable $10 per person. Corporate tables $150.

Cornel West The author of Race Matters: The Future of a Multicultural Society, Prophecy Deliverance!AnAfro-American Revolutionary Christianity, Keeping Faith: Philosophy of Race in America and other weighty tomes crafted to spur public debate offers his message of hope and his practical advice. West promotes an ethic of love and encourages insight as a cure for racial violence. 7 p.m. Grand Ballroom, University of Houston Hilton, University of Houston, entrance 1 off Calhoun, 743-2996. Free.

june 17
Tap Jam The toes have it -- the Discovery Dance Group presents Texas tapper Gracey Tune in a master class and an improvised tap jam to live music. Food will be served during the evening's festivities so tappers can keep their strength up. Tunes and tapping events are planned throughout the weekend. Today's master class runs 7:309 p.m., and the dancing and dining jam runs 9 p.m.midnight. Institute of Dance Arts, 5016 Bellaire, 667-3416. Master class $15; tap jam $20.

Chainsaw Kittens Perhaps if Marc Bolan had lived, been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and taken his Ritalin, the resulting animal would have been along the lines of Kittens vocalist Tyson Meade. Meade, whose drag is becoming slacker in recent years is doing a more melodious thing in white bucks and sheeny synthetic material shirts. And, his band has made recent additions in the beat department -- namely bassist Matt Johnson and drummer Eric Harmon. The Chainsaw Kittens' third release, Pop Heiress, is a moody pop album with genuine, mid-'70s-style glam ballads. They've toured with Smashing Pumpkins, godfather of eye-liner Mr. James Osterberg and the Meat Puppets. Now they appear on the small, seedy stage of the un-burned-down Emo's. 2700 Albany, 523-8503. 21 and over free, $5 minors.

june 18
Juneteenth at George Ranch Bill Pickett was not the beginning or the end of the African-American cowboy heritage. James and Willie Thomas, who were born on the George Ranch and were among the first African-Americans on the professional rodeo circuit, lead the trail ride beginning today's festivities. They'll also be on hand for the demonstration of cowpunching that follows the ride. (Those interested in joining the ride should call trail boss Alex Prince at 545-9212.) The ranch founder, A.P. George, celebrated Juneteenth every year (after 1865, of course). Black cowboys were an integral part of the 474-acre ranch for a century, and the George Ranch Historical Park celebrates that history every weekend. Special extras for the holiday include gospel singers, barbecue, a rodeo and a dance. The Fort Bend Museum continues the celebration with a photo essay on black cowboying and with "The Art of Tony Sherman: An Expose of African-American Life Past and Present." The museum is open 15 p.m. 500 Houston Street in Richmond, 342-6478.

The park opens at 10 a.m., and the trail riders are expected to arrive around noon. Take US 59 south to Crabb River Road, go south and follow the signs to the George Ranch Historical Park. 545-9212. $5, $4 seniors, $3 children 312.

Inside/Outside A premier jazz art exhibit joins the murals at Dizzy's. New work by Israel McCloud, who describes himself as a jazzologist, goes up along with the permanent paintings of recognizable jazz legends, Leonard Cohen and what appears to be Allen Ginsberg. The motto at Dizzy's is "Jazz all the time," and this art event continues in that theme. McCloud, who practices the visual, musical and literary arts, has been studying jazz for 15 years. "Jazz," he believes, "is spiritually medicinal and reflective." His own visual art shows a gift for portraiture and improvisation. Opening tonight, 59 p.m. Dizzy's Jazz Bar, 1336 Westheimer, 520-5440 or 520-7221. No cover.

Swordsman II Kung fu fighting was never like this, although certain recent Japanese animated features are almost as wickedly bent. For this -- the final feature in "Exhilarating Escape Part II," the Museum of Fine Arts' Hong Kong series -- sorcery, fanciful Oriental costumes and exquisite weaponry are expected. Swordsman II goes at least one step further. Would you believe martial arts action with cross-dressing and bending of genders? Swordsman II has action aplenty and some rather clever surprises up its silky sleeves. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., tomorrow at 7. MFA, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. $6, $5 members.

june 19
Father's Day for the Birds Stack your dad against a little chickadee. Naturalist Jane Hultberg offers taxpayers a chance to compare featherless biped dads with the fathers of the bird world. Many papa birds, it turns out, share in such parenting chores as feeding, grooming and teaching. (Does crop-feeding prevent croup?) The program includes a slide show and lecture, and then, if you like, a guided walk through the urban forest. 1 p.m. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway Drive, 681-8433. Free.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. It is an American tragedy that for many otherwise well-informed people, the image of Buster Keaton is of a bull-dog old man in the Li'l Abner and Beach Blanket Bingo movies -- or perhaps the central figure in a shot from Steamboat Bill, Jr. Remember seeing a stoic little man who stands as a wall crashes down on him, only to be neatly framed by an open window? But that trick -- which was pulled off with excruciating engineering, not photo gimmickry -- was typical of Keaton's endlessly inventive and daring imagination. It is but one spectacular moment in 72 minutes of action, comedy and gripping drama.

Buster Keaton was performing almost before he could walk and was a star, on vaudeville stages here and abroad, by the time he was ten. In 1917 he seemed headed for success as a serious actor, but quit a $300 a week job as a Broadway star to become a bit player in the movies at $75 a week. With one afternoon's introduction to the machinery, he was enchanted by the possibilities of film. From the beginning he was a pioneer both as a comedian and as a filmmaker -- deep-focus technique can be seen in his features, plain as day, many years before it was reputedly invented. In The Playhouse, with the aid of gifted hand-camera cranker Elgin Lessley, Keaton created a nine-exposure dance scene. He plays a row of minstrels singing and dancing in perfect unison. But for Keaton, daring stunts and astounding athletics were possible even on stage. What he wanted from film was reels of real dreams. The Playhouse, Sherlock, Jr. and a couple of shorts feature unnerving film-within-a-film twists -- quite remarkable now, not to mention in the silent era.

Keaton's gifts did not rely on feel-good formulae; his pictures are about half-and-half for happy endings. Suicide and the grave are two particularly hilarious endings (as in Cops and Seven Chances). In real life, Keaton had the misfortune of divorcing a wife well-connected to a studio chief. And he did not have the fortune of being in disfavor for paternity suits and other indiscretions only to return glamorously to the States at the heightofthebacklashagainst McCarthyism. In his middle and later years Keaton wrote gags for Red Skelton movies (which were often remakes of his originals), orchestrated the physical comedy for I Love Lucy, married a gorgeous woman many years younger who would love him till the end of his life, was lauded as a genius and an influence on Federico Garcia Lorca and Samuel Beckett and, in the early '60s, made a triumphant appearance at the Venice Film Festival. Not justice perhaps, but go to this movie -- part of a silent film series -- and have some last laughs (and see Keaton in skin-tight wet clothes). 7:30 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance 8 off University, 527-4853. $4.25.

june 20
Get a picture of the rock Paintings by astronauts and depictions of the moon are going up for auction this week. Since the offices managing the event are in Beverly Hills, Space City art mavens should hasten to send their bids in.

Alan Bean is one of only 11 people ever to set foot on the moon, so his exclusive view lends incalculable value to his lunar landscapes. (The fine folks of Superior Auction Galleries of Beverly Hills suggest $25,000 to $35,000 for Bean's oil of Gene Cernan making moon tracks in the lunar rover.) The lot also includes a Norman Rockwell study. But The Final Impossibility: Man's Tracks on the Moon is not in the traditional Rockwell style; it's a stark landscape with no bright colors or cute dimples. (And its value is set in the same range as Bean's work.) A 275-page catalog of the Space Memorabilia auction is available by phone for $15. All 1,300 lots will be sold by fax, mail, phone and in person June 25 and 26 by Superior Auction Galleries of Beverly Hills, 9478 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Call (800) 421-0754 for more info and to order a catalog.

june 21
Five Guys Named Moe A simple fantasy involving a lovelorn young man and the specter of jazz greats functions as the plot in this joyous musical stage salute to Louis Jordan. Elvis, Schmelvis; Beatles, Schmeatles. Jordan had 57 songs released as singles in the 1940s and early '50s. Fifty-five were top-ten R&B singles, 18 of those at number one. Stacks of Jordan's blues and boogie-woogie tunes are still standards -- who among us can't sing a chorus of "Baby It's Cold Outside," "Is You Is or Is You Ain't Ma Baby" and "Let the Good Times Roll"?

Being men of vision, director Charles Augins and writer Clark Peters keep the joint jumping by relying on Jordan's music. Producer Cameron Mackintosh, responsible for Cats, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera, put his stamp on the production, so it's a class act. For those of us who are members of a generation that holds "Mandy" as a classic, Five Guys Named Moe may be our only hope. It's a treat to beat your feet on the Wortham Center's plush carpet. The multi-award-winning musical runs June 2126. Opens tonight at 8 p.m. Brown Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue. Tickets through Ticketmaster, 629-3700, and other brokers. $15-$36.

june 22
Heavy Petting Whoo-ee, you can get your paws on Liz Taylor's stuff. But she's just one of the tres fab celebs who've donated items for the auction end of this "Fun-Raiser Happy Hour" benefiting the Pet Patrol, which helps care for the pets of more than 200 Houstonians with AIDS. The Pet Patrol has procured goodies from a diverse group including Brigitte Bardot, Barbara Bush and Woody Harrelson. Other auction items are gifts, service certificates and dinner and hotel packages (these were donated by a more pedestrian group of local merchants and do-gooders). The Pet Patrol also sponsors shot- and dip-days and offers help with food and vet bills. Volunteers will be present at the Fun-Raiser to answer questions about their nonprofit group and to sign up new volunteers. 58 p.m. At the Black Labrador, appropriately enough, 4100 Montrose. Call 522-1954 for more info. Admission is donation of pet food. Free hors d'oeuvres, cash bar.


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