Kultur: Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Around the World

From Paloma to Neiman’s, The Octagon to ‘Night in Tunisia,’ our local fine arts columnist got you covered.


Like contemporary stage versions of MacBeth — and the evil they portend — there’s something a little spooky about Paloma, an original drama by Rob Bosquez. Written five years ago, the Fort Worth playwright’s abstract exploration of murder in the titular small Texas town during the early 1920s was supposed to go on three times before but never quite breached the curtain. The closest to a short explanation comes from Adam Dietrich of The Butterfly Connection, the Fort Worth company that come hell or high water plans on getting Paloma to the stage and keeping it there this weekend at Rose Marine Theater (1440 N. Main St.). All he would say is: “A sequence of events.” (Totally creepy, right?!)

Two of Bosquez’ previous works, Benny and the Bones of Bandit and A Tale of Los Niños Cinco, have seen the (foot-) light of day. But Dietrich, a young local theater veteran and director of Paloma, says neither compares to the playwright’s new one. “It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in the Fort Worth area.”

(Dietrich and Bosquez go way back to Arlington’s Martin High School, oddly enough the same campus that produced stellar actress Dana Schultes, now director of development for Stage West.)

For more information, visit www.thebutterflyconnection.com or call the theater at 817-624-8333.

Throwdown in Cowtown

Boxing is down for the count. The sport is not only as corrupt as it was in the friggin 1930s, but ever since the disappearance of larger-than-life personalities Mike Tyson, George Forman, and Evander Holyfield, it’s totally bor-ing.

Enter: ultimate fighting. Who wants to sit patiently through round after round of “the sweet science” when there are monstrous men just aching to tear each other’s heads off with their bare hands in The Octagon. The 18-34 male demographic knows what’s up. They’re part of the reason that ultimate fighting, or mixed martial arts, is poised to usurp boxing’s tawdry throne.

Some local guys know what’s up, too. They recently created International Freestyle Fighting, a Fort Worth-based promotions company whose first event takes place next weekend at Will Rogers Coliseum.

The main man behind the company is hometown hero and Eastern Hills High School grad Brock Groom, a former boxer who got turned on to MMA a few years ago. Groom, a lawyer, and his partners (two other lawyers and a software engineer) started building the company about a year ago. The, um, ultimate plan is to put on three to four fights in Fort Worth per year.

IFF’s inaugural bout features Pete Spratt, Cedric Marks, and local boy Travis Lutter, among others. One of the owners says people have been telling him that the fight should have taken place in Dallas. Their reason: Fort Worthians aren’t progressive enough to support a sport as edgy and non-mainstream as ultimate fighting. The owner says not to worry: He expects most of the 7,200 seats to be filled. “I told everybody, ‘Fort Worth will show up.’”

For more information, visit www.iffighting.com.

90.1 at Night in Tunisia

Oh, whence musical eclecticism? I can totally understand having favorite songs. But favorite genres? Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can listen to the same three or four types of music and nothing else ad infinitum.

Which is why we should all hoist upon our shoulders, carry through the streets, and cheer Paul Slavens, a precious local natural resource who doesn’t get enough love in these parts.

Nothing against Tom Urquhart, Chris Bellomy, Tony Diaz, and Neil Schnell, my dear friends at “The Good Show,” which airs on KTCU/88.7-FM near the same Sunday evening time slot as “90.1 at Night with Paul Slavens” on KERA/90.1-FM. But my boys’ program has always been totally accessible and self-deprecating, and there’s never been any shame in getting Urquhart’s likeness tattooed on your chest. Listening to Slavens’ show, on the other hand, always seemed to me the auditory equivalent of pledging a cult, one in which to be accepted you must recite Radiohead lyrics backward while wearing a red turtleneck with brown corduroy slacks and swearing off sex. And you know if there’s one thing worse than rich people, it’s too-cool-for-school hipsters!

To me, Slavens was too-cool-for-school personified: resident of Denton, the hippest town in Texas next to Austin; dabbler in the performance art scene; bald; wearer of black. I bet that if you had been in the car with me several Sundays ago when I accidentally listened to about 10 minutes of his show before realizing it, I would have changed the station. (I have an anti-everything image to uphold, dig?) But I was alone, and I kept my radio put, and, don’t ya know, I actually liked what came outta my speakers. In fact, I think I loved it.

I mean, I never in my life heard two of my top-10 all-time favorite songs on the radio in the same day let alone the same hour. Yet lo and behold, they’re they both were on one of Slavens’ recent programs — “Ando Meio Desligado” by the ’60s-era tropicalia trio Os Mutantes and “Eight Miles High” by The Byrds. Other cats Brother Paul has spun include Bartok, Frank Zappa, Johnny Cash, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, and, yes, William Shatner. As for tunes, one “90.1 at Night” segment served up “That’s Alright Mama” from Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special, The Talking Heads’ “Sugar on My Tongue,” and Dexter Gordon’s relatively faithful interpretation of Art Blakey’s “Night in Tunisia.” (Friends of mine who hang out at the local watering hole where I occasionally commandeer the DJ booth, get ready to hear some of the aforementioned beauts among my core playlist of Roxy Music, Earth, Wind, & Fire, the New York Dolls, Lake Trout, and all kinds of Michael Jackson.)

I admit, I often put a little extra effort into either liking stuff that everyone hates or hating stuff that everyone likes. I probably don’t enjoy listening to ’80s-era hair metal any more than the next Gen-X casualty, but I sure as heck like to tell the world I do, just to constantly remind everyone — and myself — that I’m a rugged individualist and not some sheep.

Am I saying that by being eclectic, Slavens and I rule? Absolutely. But is our rule dictatorial? No way. Everyone’s welcome to reign alongside us and help usher in a new Age of Aquarius, an era in which categories and arrangements don’t matter but emotions and moods do. Ever wonder why hardcore metal-heads also dig fusion? It’s ’cause both styles are over-the-top grandiose. Same reason why indie kids and skate punks like old C&W: They’re both depressing as hell.

Now for grandiose and depressing? Wait ’til y’all hear some opera.

Catch Slavens in person every Monday at Dan’s Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St., Denton (940-320-2000).

We Suck

As if Texas Monthly hasn’t progressively become more frivolous over the past couple of years, the magazine’s April issue features a list of the 75 things “they” (ostensibly, the mag’s writers) love about Texas.

As if the Capital City-based Texas Monthly hasn’t become progressively more Austin-centric over the past couple of years, only two Fort Worth-based phenomena — two! of 75! — are mentioned. Both come straight from the mouth of our town’s Convention and Visitors Bureau: the dance floor at Billy Bob’s Texas, No. 50, behind the downtown Dallas Neiman-Marcus (No. 26) and UT softball player Cat Osterman (No. 36), and the Cultural District, No. 61, behind pretty much everything.

In the world of journalism, when writers are either bored or don’t have any real journalism to commit, they make lists. For one thing, they’re easy as hell to put together — all the editor has to do is take staffers to Pancho’s, ply ’em with margaritas, and then wait for the, uh, hot air to blow. By accentuating the positive, lists also make the mag’s advertisers, potential advertisers, and bean counters beyond ecstatic. Just imagine your business getting mentioned in a major magazine’s “favorite things” list: That mellifluous music coming ’round the mountain is the sound of your cash register ringing non-stop.

On the negative side, lists merely promulgate ugly, dangerous, cancerous soundbite journalism. The short, snappy verbiage of which they’re made can be read quickly and without much thought. No wonder they help magazines fly off the racks.

I’m glad both the Cultural District and the dance floor at Billy Bob’s (note: not Billy Bob’s itself) made the Monthly’s cut — not enough Texans, Fort Worthians included, fully appreciate either area. But if the purpose of Texas Monthly is for well-educated Texans here and elsewhere to make sense of and better understand their beloved home state, do we really need to be regaled once more by the glory of bluebonnets (No. 1)?

Contact Kultur at kultur@fwweekly.com.

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