More than Just Slaves The second workshop in a four-part series presented by Imam Haywood S. Talib of the Sister Clara Muhammad School. Talib will describe African-American achievements in our history. These workshops are a small part of the schedule for the Houston Public Library's salute to Black History Month. More than Just Slaves will be presented from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Mancuso branch, 6767 Bellfort, 644-1878. On this day the library also offers African drummer Moremi Nodikoane, at 4 p.m. at the Alief regional branch, 7979 S. Kirkwood, 568-3330. Anita Bunkley will discuss her book Emily, the Yellow Rose and a forthcoming work, Black Gold, about African-American contributions in the oil patch, 7 p.m., Robinson-Westchase, 3223 Wilcrest, 784-0987. Storytime at the Hillendahl branch features works by black authors at 7 p.m., 2436 Gessner, 467-9090. These delightful, educational events are free -- your tax dollars at work -- and quite a bargain. For more information about these and other activities, call the Houston Public Library at 236-1313.
Black and Single Larry Davis will discuss his book, Black and Single: Meeting and Choosing a Partner Who's Right for You, at this book-signing and social. The idea of this meeting is, according to the author, to "find out about your romantic market; choosing a partner, liking, loving, and lusting and so much more." Davis's chapter titles alone are intriguing -- "Sex: when, why and with whom," "Dating White" and, our own pet personal favorite, "Between Dates: down time ain't necessarily a bad time." Davis mentions discouraging facts: stats on African-American divorce, stats on the economic status of African-American men and stats on available African-American men. His message, though, is positive. He says: "I could probably sell more books if I disparaged black men, since black women are most of my readership. But I don't want to do that. It isn't helping anyone." Davis has very carefully written a book which, alone among the clutter of self-help texts, addresses specific problems of black single life.
One thing, in Davis's opinion, that makes black single life different is that black single life affects black life. Single-parent families, Davis notes, start with bad relationships. He wants a strong black America, and, he says, "it all starts with relationships."
(It also seems that -- while this social is for a special crowd -- Davis's book, which speaks so clearly about unreasonable expectations and romantic myths, could be enlightening to singles of any hue.)
The book social will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore and Cultural Center, 5309 M.L.K. Blvd., 645-1071 or 645-1160.
Dance Times Two The Society for the Performing Arts presents two major Texas companies on the same bill. Yacov Sharir and Ann Williams, artistic directors of Sharir Dance Company and the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, will give a pre-curtain talk and will answer questions before the performance.
Sharir will perform Houston premieres of two works -- Witness and More about Love. DBDT is a modern dance company with a repertory of modern, jazz, ethnic and spiritual works. Two of the three works DBDT will dance in Houston are brand-new -- Into the Labyrinth and Homage to the Source: Africa. Homage -- a 25-minute African suite with drumming, poetry and singing -- is the spectacular finale.
Pre-curtain talk 7:30, performance 8 p.m. at the Cullen Theater in the Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $14-$22.
Class Houston actor, playwright and director Franklin J. Anderson offers his new two-act play as a Valentine's gift. The cast for this production comes from the Ensemble Theatre -- the oldest still-performing black theater in the Southwest. The "class" discussed in these two acts is of two kinds: the class of a natural aristocrat, and the class one can buy at the right schools. Only this one performance is scheduled right now, but expect to see the love story of Clarence Weatherspoon and Emma Jean Davis on another Houston stage soon. Of course, this is the only chance to see Class with your valentine. 8 p.m. Kaplan Theater, Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 438-1062. $12.
Through the Dark Nightly Those who remember the mid-'70s release of the folk album Through the Dark Nightly might think that having a party at this late date is a bit odd. Think again. This special performance celebrates Anderson Fair's long life as a showcase for songwriters and reunites the recording artists (not that they haven't seen each other from time to time, the folk/bluegrass/mallbillie music world being tight-knit and all). Lynn Langham is down from Nashville; Stephen Jarrard, Bill Cade and Don Sanders join her onstage.
Sanders has been around a while, and fans may recall his songs about demon rum and hard livin' and all -- or they may recall "Heavy Word Lover," a tune about what great lovers English majors are. Eric Taylor will be on hand too, and while we don't know that he'll sing it, Taylor did write "Fat Babies Have No Pride," a sing-along written with Lyle Lovett to discourage the odious practice of sing-alongs. The theory is that lines like "Fat baby drooling" and other descriptions of disgusting infant behavior wouldn't work for a jolly chorale. In practice, the refrain -- "I like you 'cause you like me and you don't like much" -- is the kind of pure and holy truth that makes country-and-western-type music the pinnacle of human expression. Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant Street (behind Texas Art Supply), 664-7331. $10.
Black Gold Following her appearance at the Robinson-Westchase library, Anita Bunkley will discuss her upcoming book, which chronicles a rarely documented side of the oil-boom days of the '20s. African-Americans were there, and they were involved. This fast-paced book about the first boom shows the lives of African-Americans -- roughnecks, lease brokers, speculators and wildcatters. Anika Sala, of the Shrine of the Black Madonna, wants to be sure that no one thinks Bunkley's book is dry history: "Black Gold is an exciting, entertaining and intensely personal novel.... It is sexy, strong, proud and passionate -- an up-all-night saga as big and colorful as Texas itself." The book-signing is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore and Cultural Center, 5309 M.L.K. Blvd., 645-1071 or 645-1160.
Jimmy Pineapple Sings Songs of Love There are certain almost-significant others out there who feel that for Valentine's Day they ought to do something special, but are uncertain about just how special this emotionally loaded event should be. Jimmy Pineapple's show -- that's the ticket. The evening itself is a show in the supper-club tradition of the glamorous big-band era, and nothing (at least nothing public) could be more romantic. But Pineapple is still a comic (though he has evolved from outlaw to lounge act), so one can always claim, in the cold clear light of dawn, "What big date? We saw a comedy show."
Jimmy Pineapple Sings Songs of Love is a perfect setup for either attitude. Couples out for a romantic evening can dress to the nines, thrill to the Tod Vullo Jazz Trio and sip martinis while Pineapple, attired and styling like the Chairman of the Board, croons standards. He has heard a few tunes done well, having worked with Ray Charles, the Neville Brothers, Leon Redbone and Dr. John.
On the flip side, Pineapple is a former Texas Outlaw Comic (Bill Hicks was one, and they let Sam Kinison use the name later). Who could possibly have a binding romantic moment during a show in that irreverent style? Robert Barber, another old outlaw, may be on stage, possibly doing his bit about Tennessee Williams doing color commentary for basketball. We also hear that Andy Huggins, who has gone from outlaw to Billy Crystal writer, has contributed material. The emotionally immature -- and those of us who just don't happen to know anyone we feel like making any sort of commitment to -- can focus on these reprobates and miscreants, and known roue James Pineapple, Esq. This is a unique evening.
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The Casanova of Comedy offers his cavalier tribute, 8:30 p.m., The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333.
Fine Toon Figurines This gallery specializes in objets de Warner Brothers, original animation cells and other very silly yet valuable gifts for animation fans and valentines who are beyond exchanging gag gifts but aren't ready yet for the implications of candy and flowers. Prices vary from reasonable to serious money. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 2427 Bissonnet, 522-6499.
Gator Gala: University of St. Thomas Mardi Gras Ball The liberal arts' snappiest party ever, and for a good and staid cause: The Reverend Francis E. Monaghan Scholarship Fund. Gifford "Giff" Nielsen, KHOU Channel 11 Oiler guru, will be the master of ceremonies. And if that's not festive enough for your Creole blood, Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters are the evening's entertainment. Admission to this ball is a bit on the pricey side. If you want to spend even more money, jump into the live action and bid for wonderful trips and cruises. The decor is Mardi Gras-chic with "gators" adorning the room. (The press release doesn't specifically say so, but we feel sure that the creatures in question are some sort of mock-up, rather than genuine reptiles.) 7 p.m., Houston Country Club, One Potomac. For info call 525-3117. $150, tables $2,500-$7,500.
Grownups' Night at the Junior School The Glassell School of Art invites adults to come squish and splash and smear and shape with clay and paints and wire. The goal is not so much to make art as to have fun. Messy fun. Productive, creative fun with colors and textures and your own imagination. The school will put students through orientation before the class. The raison d'étre for this session is to familiarize you with the toys. After the brief introduction, adults troop off into the studios for a children's-style class. This is a chance to relive the carefree days of tadhood! To tap into your creativity! Or, to make your mom a clay ashtray. Call the school to register for this free class. 7-9 p.m. Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose, 639-7500.