WHERE IT'S AT. The Tucson Downtown Alliance is promoting the obvious place to be on Friday nights.

Downtown at Dusk has a different theme each week, free of charge. On Friday, November 22, from 5 to 9 p.m., The TDA and El Centro de las Americas host a dance concert, performances by folklorico dancers and mariachis, food and drink specials and even a tamale festival--all at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave.

For details, call 547-3338 or check out www.downtowntucson.org.

AMERICA, OH AMERICA. In 1991, Albania's communist government fell, its borders opened and a refugee tidal wave hit the shores of Italy, a country regarded by the poverty-stricken Albanians as "their America."

Italian film director Gianni Amelio crafted his 1994 opus, L'America, mining the story of two Italian carpetbaggers who cross the Adriatic in the opposite direction in search of easy Albanian money. They choose a homeless man, a former political prisoner, as the "chairman" of their dummy company. But this elderly Albanian is not what he appears to be. And neither is Albania

The dark comedy is laced with ironies that cast a long shadow upon the so-called "real" America--something we've all been wondering about as the war drums get louder and louder.

Free screening of the International Arts Society Film Series begins at 7:30 p.m. at the UA's Modern Languages Auditorium just off Second Street near Mountain Avenue. Call 621-1836 for details.

A GATHERING OF WARES. The Tucson Black Chamber of Commerce hosts the 2002 Business and Family Expo open to the public, free of charge.

Business owners showcase their products and services on Saturday, November 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Greek Hellenic Center, 1145 E. Fort Lowell Road. The organizers of the Expo hope to forge lasting partnerships by promoting common economic interests and encouraging business growth. Expect to win door prizes, see demonstrations of computer technology, view displays of apparel, games, arts and crafts, munch on food and listen to music. Call for information at 623-0099.

FUNNY FACES. Sometimes all I can stand of the media coverage of the nightmare we call current events is the political cartoons. At least they make me laugh.

UA journalism professor and author of Mo: The Life and Times of Morris K. Udall, James Johnson has penned Arizona Politicians: The Noble and the Notorious. Along with Arizona Star cartoonist David "Fitz" Fitzsimmons, they profile 21 men and women from Arizona who have made, for better or worse, their mark on the political arena. From the first governor, George W. P. Hunt, to the current senator, John McCain, there's plenty of spiritedness in the personal and public lives of these politicians. And what better way to understand their stories and remember their faces than with Johnson's humorous text and Fitzsimmons' stinging cartoons.

Come hear about the political players who've served their state on Saturday, November 23, at 2 p.m. when Johnson and Fitzsimmons show up at Reader's Oasis, 3400 E. Speedway Blvd. The reading is free. Call 319-7887 for details.

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