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Thursday 1

HELPFUL HIKE. Traverse hill and dale in the Pinaleño Mountains -- all for a good cause -- with Sky-Island Alliance.

Located near Safford, the stunning range is home to many animal species beyond the embattled red squirrel. Maintaining that rich habitat with a regional conservation plan is SIA's goal, and volunteers are needed to help map the area. The mapping will run from Tuesday through Sunday, July 6 through 11, and volunteers can join for any length of time.

There will be a training session at 7:30 p.m. today in the UA Water Resources Research Center, 350 N. Campbell Ave. For information, call 323-0547.

Friday 2

BIG PICTURE. WomanKraft Gallery focuses on the great outdoors with a new exhibit simply -- and appropriately -- titled Landscapes.

Among the featured works are paper collages by Gayle Swanbeck, paintings by Lorraine Inzalaco and Susannah Castro, Robin White's fiber pieces and Gerrie Young's ceramics.

Landscapes runs through August, with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. tomorrow, in the WomanKraft Gallery, 388 S. Stone Ave. Hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. For details, call 629-9976.

BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR. Get an early start on the Independence Day festivities at Tucson Electric Park. Along with great all-American baseball action with Tucson Sidewinders and the Salt Lake Buzz, there will also be a fireworks show following the game both tonight and tomorrow.

First pitch is 7 p.m. at Tucson Electric Park, 2500 E. Ajo Way. Admission ranges from $3 to $8. For details, call 434-1021.

SUMMER BARD. Beth Ann Fennelly is current winner of the UA Poetry Center Summer Residency Program. But her curriculum vitae also includes a wealth of publications, including the chapbook A Different Kind of Hunger, and appearances in The Best American Poetry 1996, TriQuarterly, The Bloomsbury Review, Michigan Quarterly Review and Shenandoah. And that's not to mention the slew of awards her work has garnered.

Tonight, Fennelly shares her top-rated verse in a free 7 p.m. reading at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave. Call 321-7760 for information.

Saturday 3

COWBOY CACOPHONY. Saddle up and head downtown for Welcome to the Romance, billed as a "musical tribute to the American West."

Hosted by the Western Music Association, this cowboy-minded celebration of Independence Day will feature The Due West Trio and Tucson's own Desert Sons, along with Tom Chambers and Jon Messenger.

The free concert begins at 7 p.m. in the TCC Leo Rich Theatre, 260 S. Church Ave. For information, call 743-9794.

FREEDOM CENTRAL. Tucson's urban core spreads American spirit with a freedom-tinged Downtown Saturday Night.

Anchoring the celebration will be an old-time square dance replete with live fiddlers in the Ronstadt Transit Center. And the Accordion Club of Tucson gets in on the action with a variety of patriotic and international pieces.

Up on Fourth Avenue, KXCI presents its special Saturday night music mix, while Debbie and Double Eagle warm up Winsett Park, and high-energy solo performer Tommy Tucker rips up the Fifth Street Stage.

That's in addition to the usual array of bars, eateries and galleries opening their doors to celebrate the heart of Tucson.

Downtown Saturday Night runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Call 624-9977 for information.

Sunday 4

CITY CELEBRATION. The City of Tucson celebrates Independence Day with a string of free activities in the TCC.

The action warms up with a pancake breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. in the Grand Lobby entrance, followed by a party from noon to 5 p.m. in the Exhibition Hall. The patriotic scene will include everything from pony rides and a petting farm for the kids, to a bungee run, gladiator joust, cake walks and pie-eating contests for the young-at-heart. Folks from Davis Monthan and the Tucson Fire Department will provide demonstrations, and strolling clowns will add to the fun.

In addition, there will be a three-on-three basketball tournament in the TCC Arena from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and an arts and crafts show in the Galleria and Grand Lobby from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the evening, Granada Street explodes with a USAF fly-over display at 6:45 p.m., followed by music and poetry performances. The city's annual fireworks display blasts off from "A" Mountain at 9 p.m.

The TCC is located at 260 S. Church Ave. For information, call 791-4101

FOURTH ON FOURTH. Tucson's quaint downtown shopping district goes patriotic with Live on Fourth -- as in "avenue." And this "star-spangled salute to Independence" will include a top-notch musical line-up in Winsett Park. Performers include the Larry Redhouse Quartet at 5:30 p.m. and saxophonist Malik Alkabir at 6:30 p.m. In addition, DJs Starskee Suave and Buttafly will be spinning vinyl at Magpies Pizza, and there will be a plethora of great grub and drink.

The party starts at 5 p.m. on North Fourth Avenue, between Ninth Street and University Boulevard. For details, call 624-5004.

WELL-GROUNDED FUN. There's corn masa and corn on the cob, corn oil, popcorn, corn pone, and of course, corn mash. In other words, the humble kernel is an integral part of the American experience. Which is exactly why the Hispanic Cultural Showcase is throwing another Red, White and Blue Corn celebration to honor Independence Day.

The party offers an earful of music, including cowboy fun with The Due West Trio, high-steppin' with The Ranch Dancers, mariachi group Sonido De Mexico and kids' folklorico Cinco Soles.

There will also be great chow, from roasted corn and Yoheme fry bread to hot dogs.

Red, White and Blue Corn runs from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Jacob's Park Soccer Annex, 1010 W. Linden St. Admission is free. Call 888-8816 for information.

Monday 5

COURT CROWD. Steer clear of video games, and get a dose of real action with Tucson Parks and Recreation's Gym Jam program.

The jam offers supervised sports activities from badminton and basketball to board games and volleyball, for kids ages 8 to 18. And best of all, the fun is free.

Activities run from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, through July 22, at Amphi Middle School, and Catalina, Palo Verde, Pueblo and Sunnyside High Schools. For information, call 791-4870.

DISAPPEARING ACT. Tucson will enjoy the best sleight-of-handers around with It's Magic.

This evening of clever deception will feature Greg Frewin, a veteran of three appearance on NBC's World's Greatest Magic show, along with two appearances on Champions of Magic. He also boasts a 1994 International Federation of Magicians' Societies Award, which is magic's equivalent to an Olympic gold medal.

If that weren't enough to get your specious juices flowing, the show will also include "Master of Illusions" Charles Bach, classical magic with Bob Massey and "Tucson's Own Magician Extraordinaire," John Shryock.

Show time is 7 p.m. in The Gaslight Theater, 7010 E. Broadway. Tickets are $10, and available at William's Magic and Novelties, or by calling 790-4060.

Tuesday 6

GARDENS OF DELIGHT. Take a stroll -- and a Mother Nature refresher course -- with Tohono Chul's Walk in the Park tours.

These hikes provide an overview of the park's 48 acres. And lush acreage it is, especially for being smack-dab in the middle of the booming northwest side.

Within its expanse, the park boasts galleries, a gift shop, a tea room, a greenhouse, demonstration gardens and a pair of great trails. The gardens include tons of cacti and other arid land plants. There's also the Genealogy Wall, a beautiful edifice depicting the history of the Catalina Mountains, which tower in the background. By contrast, the Hummingbird Garden draws tiny fliers up close and personal with a buffet of the tubular plants they hanker for.

The Garden for Children includes plants meant to prompt a tike's interest and the Ethnobotanical Garden is home to crops traditionally grown by the region's indigenous inhabitants, and those introduced by European explorers.

Then there's old-fashioned nature, abundant along a mile's worth of trail taking in a plethora of plants and birds, from curve-billed thrashers to cactus wrens and Gambel's quail.

This spot is like a breath of fresh air in an increasingly teeming metropolis. All of which makes it a perfect summer refuge from stop lights and traffic jams.

Walk in the Park tours begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday and Saturday in Tohono Chul Park, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte. There's no admission fee, but a $2 donation is suggested. For information, call 797-1213.

Wednesday 7

ETHIC CRISIS. Armed with a knapsack, white shorts and a notebook of names and addresses, Federico arrives in Los Angeles from Chile, expecting to lead what he calls an "openly gay lifestyle" replete with "economic indulgence." Instead, he discovers the L.A. riots -- which he first believes to be a Lethal Weapon sequel -- in Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown, presented by Borderlands Theater.

In five monologues, playwright Guillermo Reyes introduces several characters ranging from tightly wound to over-the-top. They include a Cuban restaurateur, a "giddy Valley Boy," and a drag-queen Flamenco star suffering from AIDS.

The nod to Pedro Almodovar's riotous film, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, is fully intended. "I want people to get that it has that Almodovar brand of humor," Reyes says. "It's a humorous look at the panic these characters are feeling as gay Latinos in American society."

Preview performances are 8 p.m. today and tomorrow in the PCC Black Box Theatre, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Tickets are $9, $8 for students, and available at the PCC Center for the Arts box office and Antigone Books. The opening celebration is 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15 including a post-performance celebration, $12 general admission, and $8 for student rush tickets available 15 minutes prior to curtain time.

Performances continue at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, through July 18. Tickets for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday shows are $11, $9 for seniors, $8 for students. Tickets for Friday and Saturday shows are $12, $8 for student rush. For information, call 882-7406.

TALKING TALL. Pull up a stool and lend an ear when the Summer of Storytelling gets underway.

Hosted by the local Teller of Tales group, the gathering is an opportunity for veteran tall talkers and upstart tale spinners to weave their best stuff before a rapt audience. The event is led by professional storytellers Glenda Bonin and Ron Lancaster.

Summer of Storytelling mouths off at 7 p.m. in the UA Ada Pierce McCormick Building Meeting Room, on the northeast corner of First Street and Highland Avenue. Admission is $5, and free for members. Call 326-8966 for details.

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