The best/creepiest named day ever, Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), is upon us again. To commemorate, Tohono Chul Park's Exhibit Hall has been showcasing work by 23 southwestern artists since Sept. 1. Now with the day--days, actually--fast approaching (the official days of remembrance are Nov. 1 and 2), the park will have an official reception.
If you're completely lost, relax, take a deep breath and pay attention. Día de los Muertos are the days, in Mexico, where deceased ancestors are remembered and honored. In fact, traditionally the families of the dead attend church, gather at cemeteries or create homemade altars adorned with food, flowers and candles in the hopes of enticing the souls of the dead to return to earth to take part in the festivities.
In some U.S. states, like Arizona, Día de los Muertos is observed and celebrated in various ways (keep your eyes on the Weekly for upcoming Tucson events). At Tohono Chul Park, there is a surfeit of Day of the Dead artwork from contemporary paintings to photography and an altar to which people may contribute a non-returnable token of remembrance for a lost loved one.
The reception for Día de los Muertos: Contemporary Expressions this Friday will be free. So, to remember a lost loved one or just admire some fantastic southwestern art, check it out. --M.P.
Halloween can be a frightening time for youths. An example: One Halloween, around the age of seven, I was brushing my teeth in preparation for some trick and/or treating. Always the inventive costume-wearer, I was dressed as a fisherman. Suddenly, I realized the scariest thing about Halloween in the great southwest were not ghost costumes or houses decorated to look haunted, but the humongous scorpion that crawled out of the bathroom sink drain. Yeah. Take that, Lugosi.
This, of course, leads us to Bear Essential News for Kids' 11th annual Halloween bash this Sunday. (There's a smooth transition.) Bear Essential News for Kids (www.bearessentialnews.com) is a monthly publication for kids that aims to promote reading and writing skills, as well as stirring up the creative juices (like the kind that persuade kids to later recall bad Halloween experiences, in print, for no apparent reason). Proving that it's never too late to learn, a current Bear Essential story on the U.S. Constitution taught me that King John wrote the Magna Carta (who knew?).
Now, the influential kids' newspaper will put the learning on hold as it celebrates the most hallowed of holidays ... Halloween (that's called alliteration, kids). Parents can bring their ghosts, ghouls and goblins (some more for ya) to Tanque Verde businesses for an evening of thrills and delights. The first 1,200 kids who arrive in costume to the Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse will receive a free Halloween bag filled with treats.
Also on tap are a ride on the Ironhouse Train, a go on the antique carousel, a Ronald McDonald magic show, some trick-or-treating and a costume contest. So head on over to Tanque Verde businesses like Trail Dust Town, Golf 'n Stuff and the Dinosaur McDonald's for a free evening of safe Halloween fun. Donations will be accepted to support World Care and the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. --M.P.
Beverly Seckinger has good reason to be proud of her Lesbian Looks film series. After all, when it started there was no precedent for it. "We started way back in '93 when there was no Ellen show, no Queer as Folk, no lesbian characters on TV, or representation in the media," Seckinger says. "In fact, there was only like a handful of lesbian movies at all."
From those humble beginnings, Seckinger and fellow UA professor Janet Jakobsen came together to create Lesbian Looks, a film series that showcases lesbian independent films, smaller-budget documentaries, student films and shorts. "We don't show films that are screened in the regular movie theaters or TV," Seckinger says.
The film series began as a small event with Seckinger and Jakobsen selecting the films from a catalog. Now, 12 years later, and with the help of sponsors like the UA English and media arts departments, the festival has picked up steam. "At this point, the way we find the films is a mixture where the film directors submit the stuff directly to us and we advertise in different national publications and Web sites," Seckinger says.
This Friday, Lesbian Looks will have its final screenings of the year with a romantic comedy night. According to Seckinger, the opening film, Getting to Know You, is a film where "the protagonist learns that you can't judge a book by its cover." Meanwhile, The D Word is a parody of a famous lesbian TV show (The L Word). Made by Dyke TV in New York, the film will be a collection of several of episodes of the parody.
Following the final screening, there will be an after party at Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave. There will be no cover, a cash bar and local singer/songwriter Tammi West performing. The film screenings are also free of charge. --M.P.
According to indie-rock sensation Modest Mouse, famous poet/writer Charles Bukowski is a "good read," but an "asshole." Texas singer/songwriter Tom Russell disagrees. "It was about '75 ... on Hollywood and Vine," Russell says. "I looked down the street and said, 'Wow, there's Bukowski' ... He was taking a porno magazine or something out of a vending machine ... with his girlfriend, Linda, and he looked classic. So, we went down there ... and he was very nice. A lot of people think he was this drunken wild man, but he was very nice."
Nice as he was, Bukowski was still an eccentric who forgot to introduce his girlfriend. "We got in our VW bus and ... about five minutes later this little VW bug came up alongside going about 80, honking the horn," Russell says. "It was Bukowski and he pointed to his girlfriend and said, 'Hey, this is Linda' and then he pulled away. I guess she'd given him a bunch of shit ... later she told me he wrote a poem about it, but I've never seen it."
Wacky encounters with literary legends aside, Russell has his own stories to tell. And whether it's on one of his many albums or compiling a book of his 30 years of correspondence with Bukowski (Tough Company), Russell is getting them out there. HotWalker, Russell's latest album, is the second in a musical trilogy that began with 1998's The Man From God Knows Where. "(The Man From God Knows Where) was a folk opera based around my ancestors," Russell says. "(HotWalker) looks at my childhood influences ... and it builds on that and takes sort of a humorous look at American culture these days."
To see a true man of grit, check out Tom Russell this Friday at Old Town Artisans. The show costs $20 in advance and $23 at the door; tickets can be purchased at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave.; CD City, 2890 N. Campbell Ave.; and Enchanted Earthworks, 2980 N Swan Rd #140; or online at www.rhythmandroots.org. --M.P.