City Week

DRIVE-THROUGH FICTION. Local author Lee Shainen will read from his fast-food novel (would that be a novelette?) called Tales of the Conspiracy Café: Barcelona.

It's not about the fast-food industry or our growing obesity. Slightly trippy, borderline hallucinatory, the book is, in the words of its author, a mini-novel for the time-challenged.

Don't complain that you don't have time in your Palm Piloted life to read. This book consists of chapters that all clock in at under five pages. It's an experiment in full-throttle storytelling aimed squarely at young hipsters who may not ordinarily be inclined to read a full-length novel.

Ahem. This just in: The 40-somethings out there don't have time, either. Pull yourself away from CSI or American Idol.

Shainen hopes his new genre of high-octane, speed-punk literature will draw in both avid readers and anti-readers alike. (An anti-reader, to me, is right up there with people who say they're bored. Life's too short. Pick up a book.)

Shainen says his work is loosely inspired by the experimental works of legendary Spanish writer Jorge Luis Borges. His book dares to investigate the survival of the human race if it's dependent on a singing ghost, a resourceful robot and an ambivalent mortician.

And remember, he does it all in the time it takes four TV commercials to assault your senses.

Shainen has been roaming the Southwest for the past 30 years, indulging in a dizzying array of professions and distractions. Currently, he teaches writing at Pima Community College and hides out in an old oasis in the desert with his wife and son.

In addition to reading from his work on Friday, June 20, at 7 p.m., Shainen talks about Independents Day--a national drive to coincide with the Fourth of July holiday where folks are encouraged to support their locally owned businesses. His reading and discussion take place at just such a place--Reader's Oasis at 3400 E. Speedway Blvd.

Come ask him long, drawn-out questions or sprint off a text message from your cell phone while catching a smoke on the patio.

Call 319-7887 for the details.

ANARCHIST MEETS HEARTBREAK. What happens when you mix politics with traditional themes of love, labor, social protest, crime and revolution?

You get the cinema of Chicago-based video artist Kyle Harris.

Anarcho Country Cinema is 107 minutes of his strangest short experimental work that challenges the notion that the moving image has to be made with lots of money, that art has to be geared towards major urban centers and that movies have to provoke emotion over thought.

Harris looks for sensual moments between the powerful and the weak. Each of his movies attempts to deal with what it means to be an American. Whether it's a portrait of Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh, a dissected rural landscape, a close-up of a cop, gospel music or an examination of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, his movies guide you through the substrata of nostalgic U.S. counter-culture, testing the limits of pleasure within patriarchal Americana.

The video sniper likes to destroy stolen images from classical movies, for example. But he doesn't stop there. Pictures of Harris' own family and friends meld into equally unsuspected collaborations with this poetic terrorist.

Harris teaches at Columbia College in Chicago, facilitates video activist workshops for youth and creates public interventionist projects with the Chicago County Fair. His work has been shown at museums, festivals, universities, bars and living rooms in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Iceland and Croatia.

His tour, started this month in Seattle, lands in Tucson this week. Anarcho Country Cinema arrives on Saturday, June 21, at 4 p.m., at the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Auditorium located at the northeast corner of Speedway Boulevard and Mountain Avenue. Free parking is available in the lot one block north behind the building. Suggested donation for the screening is $4.

Questions? Call 270-6637.

SUMMER IN THE CITY. In Tucson, it's kind of strange to mark the onset of summer in the third week of June, given that for weeks, it's been hotter than most places get all summer.

Marking the Solstice: a Multicultural Celebration is packed with ways to notice the transition of seasons. At least it takes place from 5 to 8:30 p.m., on Saturday, June 21, a crepuscular moment if there ever was one. The twilight celebration includes music, dance, storytelling, stargazing and more.

Ballet Folklorico San Juan is Tucson's official folklorico dance group that headlines the festivities. With more than 150 dancers, ranging in age from 4 to 21, they raise awareness of Mexican heritage by performing authentic dances from many regions in Mexico. You may have seen them strut in such films as Young Guns II, Tombstone and Geronimo.

Navajo flutist Jonah Thompson shares his music and stories on Navajo wind philosophy. His hope is that the eyes, ears and hearts of others are made happy by the flute. Also on tap is the music of The Street Minstrels, performing Klezmer and folk music from around the world.

Kids of all ages can join in hearing stories from children's book author Marianne Mitchell, create a solstice mural with the Tucson Arts Brigade and put together a pattern sun reflector with help from the Tucson Art Museum, along with many more activities. There are treasure hunts, Ojibwe potter demonstrations, telescope stargazing with folks from Flandrau Science Center and a saguaro harvesting demo by Tohono O'odham cultural expert Stella Tucker.

It all takes place at the Arizona State Museum's annual celebration. The museum is located inside UA's Main Gate at University Boulevard and Park Avenue. It's free, as is parking.

Cal 626-2973 for more information.

MARKING THE SOLSTICE, PART II. For those needing a slower vibe to ease in the summer season, there's Trance and Dance Transformance.

It's hosted by The Institute for the Shamanic Arts, Rainbow Didge Creations, New Vibration Journal, WomanKraft, Integrity Incorporated and E2 Radio.

Allen and Audrey Smith of Rainbow Didge provide the New Tribe Trance Tech music. Starting at 8 p.m., on Saturday, June 11, they perform hours of original didgeridoo and flute music and dance themselves, and perhaps even you, into a mesmerizing, spacey groove.

There are also poetic offerings, far-out computer-generated images, stories and more geared towards adults. It takes place at The Muse, 516 N. Fifth Ave. Tickets cost $12 at the door or $10 in advance at Hear's Music, Antigone Books and online at

All proceeds benefit peace, love and truth building--no doubt.

Call 954-2004 for all the details.

REFORMING THE REFORMERS. Many people think if you're Jewish, then you follow a monolithic set of beliefs (and prohibitions). But it's really just like Christianity--you've got your Protestants, your Episcopalians, your Baptists. There might be a prevailing similarity, but often the tenets and practices are diametrically opposed.

Dr. Shawn Hellman has just finished her doctorate, comparing the three Reform Judaism drafts. What she studied was how the writing of those drafts every 50 years or so has solidified a fuller understanding of the Reform Movement itself.

Here's some history: Reform Judaism was born in Germany, but soon, believers sailed across the ocean to this country. It wasn't easy to break away from the reigning orthodoxy of the faith here. Finally, theologian Kaufmann Kohler drafted the first American Reform platform in 1885. There was much opposition about the use of Hebrew in religious services and the support of Zionism.

The Conservative and Zionist movements came to the fore in America and by 1937, the Reformists needed a new platform. One of the major figures in drawing up the new platform happened to be the grandfather of Tucson's Rabbi Samuel Cohon.

Mid-century events--the Holocaust and the establishment of the nation of Israel as a Jewish homeland--had their own effect on the Reform movement. And in 1999, a third platform was published offering recent perspectives on Judaism.

Dr. Hellman talks about the process of putting forth these platforms. Come hear what she has to say at the Jewish Historical Society's public program, Reforming Reform Judaism, on Sunday, June 22, at 1:30 p.m., at Congregation Anshei Israel, located at Fifth Street and Craycroft Road (use Craycroft Road entrance).

It's free. If you have questions, call 577-9445.