Press Picks

april 28
Brewpub opens A certain sort has been waiting years for Houston to have another brewpub. Now, we get a brewpub and more. The fresh, unique, brewed-on-the-premises beverages at the Village Brewery include Amber Owl (whither nutty brown Cougar? red Tiger?); Houston Wheat, a light-bodied beer served with a lemon slice; and Armadillo Stout, a dark malty beer with hop bitterness. The "and more" is a menu -- a lunch, dinner, snack and breakfast menu, at that. No dank pub, the Village Brewery seats more than 300. Better, it has 144 freshly painted parking spaces all its own -- quite a rarity in the Village. The cuisine is described as good ol' American grill food, which, by their lights, includes Italian sausage wrapped in puff pastry, crawfish bisque, French onion gratinee and roasted poblano crab cake.

Tonight, for the first time since 1919 -- when a certain pesky constitutional amendment nixed the practice -- Houstonians will enjoy deep draughts of brewpub beer. "To our heads!," "Cheers," etc. Complimentary beer sampler and hors d'oeuvres. 6-8 p.m. The Village Brewery, 2415 Dunstan, 524-HOPS.

The Art Car Ball: Driving to Create Get dressed -- to the nines, in your Sunday best, for Halloween, like plain trash, comfortably, like a grease monkey -- whatever your heart desires. This is the most groovy event of the year, and it's held in a parking garage. Elsa Klensch would have no idea what appropriate attire would be.

Joe Ely will play, and weird things will happen. The food is tres fabulous -- Cafe Noche, Dolce & Freddo, and Pierre and Candy Massoud Catering have done their parts for this, the annual Orange Show benefit -- and the exotic decorations include more than 70 art cars.

Sure, the whole things is corny. But heed the words of Orange Show founder Jeff McKissack: "Have you noticed how animals love corn; how chickens run for it? Rats, squirrels, hogs, mules, horses, birds, etc... love corn and thrive on it. Look for corn productions. Corn products mean grits, cornmeal and pure corn oil.... Go heavy on corn." That's from How You Can Live 100 Years... and Still Be Spry, a book by the postal-worker-turned-folk-artist. That xeroxed tome is still available for $1 through the Orange Show and is just one of the many ways in which McKissack's legacy helps make Houston life special.

This year, the Ball will be preceded by Dinner at the Hub Cap Hullabaloo -- a Cajun buffet served by Denis Seafood Restaurant -- from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the lobby of 1600 Smith. $100. Art Car Ball only, 7-11 p.m., 1600 Smith Parking Garage, 926-CARS. $35 advance, $40 at the door.

april 29
Main Street Drag A sort of sneak peek at the grand, long-awaited parade. Art cars tool down Main with a few stops in the Medical Center. A brief peep for those of us who can't get enough art car action and those tender souls who fear that the excitement of the actual parade might overwhelm them. Noon. As free as the polluted air we breathe.

Art car symposium Selected out-of-town parade participants, led by Wild Wheels filmmaker and author Harrod Blank, will explain why they do what they do, and what it is that they do do. Slides will be shown. 7 p.m. The Orange Show, 2402 Munger, 926-6368. Free.

You Can Rock the World with Your Voice Donna Jackson, author of How to Make the World a Better Place for Women -- in Five Minutes a Day, takes the podium as part of the Houston Community College Spring Speaker Series.

Jackson graduated magna cum laude from Duke in 1982 and went straight to Cosmo, where she was an assistant editor. Two years later, because of either increased opportunity or changed attitude, she was a founding senior editor of New Woman. She's still with that magazine, and now she's busily running around trying to explain that "even the largest problems faced by women can be met head-on and solutions can be reached if everyone takes just a little action."

Some of Jackson's ideas for a little action: hang a poster listing sexual harassment statistics in your workplace, request a written job review before telling the boss you're pregnant, and boycott companies that use scantily clad women to promote their products. She's also savvy about women protecting themselves on the job, at the doctor and in public policy.

Advance tickets are available at Inklings Bookstore, 1846 Richmond. Tickets will also be sold at the door. 3 p.m. HCCS Central College Auditorium, 1300 Holman, 866-8166. $3, $2 students.

Kerrville concerts Why drag yourself off to the Folk Festival? Several of the musical entertainers and as much fun as anybody needs will be served up at Miller Outdoor Theater's condensed festival. The whole thing happens at night, so no baking in the sun or scratching ant bites here -- and no awards show either. It does have some award-winners, though, and a fine lineup of other folkists. Kerrville award-winning fiddler Erik Hokkanen and 1993 Takoma Park New Folk award-winner Tom Prasada-Rao will play with Christine Albert, Paul Glasse, Champ Hood, Chuck Pyle, Kathy Moffatt and Michael Smith. All seating is free, but tickets are required for the 1,582 seats and 27 wheelchair spaces under the canopy. (Advance tickets at Whole Foods.) Special arrangements can be made for handicapped seating by calling 520-3292. Tonight and tomorrow, 8 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theater, Hermann Park, 520-3292.  

april 30
Seventh Annual Roadside Attractions: The Artists' Parade This is some kind of grunion run. Three hundred creations will roll: art cars, lowriders, classic cars, converted buses, bikes, shopping carts, skateboards, skaters and maybe even a unicycle. The frolic follows the longest parade route yet, and the Orange Show Foundation, judging from last year's attendance and calls to the hotline, expects more than 200,000 people to line the streets and cheer on the art cars. These cars are created by professional artists, happy tads in our public schools and, for all you know, your neighbors.

Tom Kennedy's Ripper the Friendly Shark will be back, wagging his steely tail. This year, too, the entrants will be ogled by correspondents from The New York Times, the BBC and some Californian writing a book about the best ten parades in the U.S. of A.

The artists themselves labor with blowtorches and super glue for more than mere publicity and the sheer naked joy of creating. They are also up for cash awards, non-cash awards and unique trophies. The trophies were handcrafted by people just like you -- latent, blooming and frustrated artists who slapped them together over a few hours earlier in the month. The Driving to Create awards will go to: Judges' Choice, Best Art Car, Best Attention to Detail, Best Rolling Sculpture, Best Folk Art/Found Object, Best Small Vehicle, Best Roller Blade/Skate Costume, Best Bi/Tricycle, Best Motorcycle, Best Lowrider, Best Musical Entry, Best Classic Car and Miss Congeniality. (Miss Congeniality? How about People's Choice? Be sure to vote!) Oscars? Inaugurations? Ick poo. Roadside Attractions is an ee-vent.

The spine-tingling awards ceremony is held at the City Hall Stage. The apres-parade party is in Market Square, so's if the many delectables and beverages purveyed throughout the International Festival don't suit you, you can duck into Pat and Pete's for peanuts and suds.

Take your dog! Take your dad! Take a date and stay all dang day! This loopy caravan begins at the intersection of Bagby and Lamar, heads off north on Bagby, makes a right on McKinney, takes a left on Travis and ends at Market Square Park. Parade starts at 1 p.m., awards ceremony 4:40 p.m., party after. For more information, call 926-CARS. Free.

may 1
Harley drag Sunday, Sunday, Sunday was never like this. Stuff the family into the van and head to Houston Raceway Park to see the world's fastest nitro-fueled Harleys.

The AHDRA Lone Star Harley Nationals, says local dealer and Harley drag-racer Johnny Mancuso, "will be filled with the nitro smells, speed, sounds and excitement of the world's fastest Harley-Davidsons."

Pushing bikes to speeds near 190 miles per hour will be top riders such as seven-time national champ Jim McClure, current 1/8-mile record-holder Bob Spina, 1994 Pro-Fuel Points Champion Bill Furr, 1994 Pro Dragster Champion Johnny Vickers, 1994 points leader Drums Brancaccio and Copenhagen-sponsored racer Dennis DiFilippo. The riders, in both pro and street classes, compete for $27,000.

Gates to Houston Raceway Park open at 9 a.m. Saturday and today. Time trials begin at 10 a.m. Admission for two days is $30, including a pit pass. Finals are Sunday at 1 p.m. Advance tickets are available at Mancuso Harley-Davidson, 535 North Loop, and Competition Motorcycles, 8318 Braniff. Houston Raceway Park, 2525 FM 565 South, in Baytown, 383-2666. Sunday-only admission is $20, including pit pass.

The Royal Ballet The acclaimed London company's surreal production of Sleeping Beauty, complete with the major set pieces, visits Houston -- one of the six cities on the American tour. This gala production has 150 exquisitely costumed parts, and Royal Ballet principal dancers will star in the lead roles.

Marius Petipa's choreography is well-suited to the lush, grand style of English ballet. The English style is, by the way, rather familiar to local mavens -- Ben Stevenson studied with Royal Ballet avatar Sir Kenneth MacMillan. So here in Cowtown, we're accustomed to such elaborate fantasy.

Even those who may not realize it are a bit familiar with the Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty: the Disney movie song "Once Upon a Dream" is lifted from the original Tchaikovsky score.  

We have the ballet for three days, and the matinees provide a wonderful chance for children to enjoy the tale of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund. (The evening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday.) Advance tickets are available through Ticketmaster (don't forget the surcharge). Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $10-$55, half-off for children 12 and under.

may 2
Keenlies The most happenin' of the Brads, Brad Moore, is the frontman for this wily band. Our homegrown Keenlies have no truck with the doomed and woeful Generation X/slacker/grunge/I-read-Rimbaud attempts at angst so popular in these MTV times (and likely to become even more so with Kurt Cobain as martyr). Two weekends ago, at the Westheimer Arts Festival, unnatural sound design forced Brad Moore to sing into a tree trunk. But it takes more than poor mike positioning to stop the Keenlies' spirit.

Actually, major anti-psychotic drugs and physical restraints might not be enough to stop them. I would say they're on a mission from God, but that would suggest that they ape the Blues Brothers, and there's nothing derivative about the special mix knocked about by Deryk Wen, Bo Morris and probably an organist.

Call it speed funk novelty music, call it whacked hardcore, call it literate psycho-pop -- make up any genre you like. Just convince your friends to join you for a jolly night of music worth hearing. Keenlies play with Chocolate U.S.A. and Jinkies, Jinkies being the spawn of Bloodfart. 9 p.m. Harvey's Club Deluxe, 2524 McKinney, 223-4705. $5.

may 3
Commedia dell'arte masks Italian crafters Amleto and Donato Sartori learned the Italian craft of maskmaking for restoration. The couple has gone on to make new masks, following the ancient traditions but also attempting to place the masks in contemporary life.

The exhibition currently displayed in the library includes 50 years of work. Masks, portraits, commedia dell'arte figures and details of their making offer insights into the art and tradition of this form.

Masks, as an art form, have an eerie, almost religious power. The frozen expressions add something supernatural to the masks, and the empty eyes give masks more charm and more power than most carved figures. As adults, we're supposed to study the sculpting, style, historical context and so forth. Children, though, have the luxury of pure imagination and can be equally intrigued by the faces themselves and by the skill of their makers.

This exhibition is sponsored by the International Festival and continues through June 1. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 2-6 p.m. The Houston Public Library, Central, 500 McKinney, 236-1313. Free.

may 4
Kissinger speaks Recently seen on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Henry Kissinger is now appearing live, in person, and not laughing about soccer with John Lithgow but gravely addressing issues. The Institute of International Education has selected the world's best-known diplomat to speak at its annual luncheon, which is its 75th anniversary luncheon, no less. The agency was established to promote education and cultural exchange in the service of international goodwill, and it now administers 285 programs, which involve 10,000 people from 170 countries.

The Nobel Prize-winning diplomat has recently published a book entitled simply Diplomacy. Scholarly types could pick up a copy and review before attending the lunch. 11:40 a.m. Westin Oaks Hotel, Consort Ballroom, 5011 Westheimer, 621-6300. $45, $75 & $100.

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