Last Call: Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Taxing Weekend Ends Well

Someone please ’splain “tax-free weekend” to me. The list of what’s “eligible” for tax exemption and what isn’t seems so … random. Spendy Vans shoes are tax-free. The expensive athletic equipment my skater daughter actually needs to compete? Not. Backpacks may be tax-free, providing they are “a pack with straps one wears on the back.” (Uh, duh!) School supplies should be tax-free, but they aren’t. It’s enough to send even a patient consumer over the edge — or at least to the nearest bar.
The end of tax-free weekend found me near the SuperTarget in Montgomery Plaza, debating the value of venturing into the jam-packed megastore for a savings of eight cents per every “eligible” dollar. Fortunately I was with women who had more sense than I do. Too confusing, they agreed. Unlike cocktails.
I’m not fancy, but my friends are, so figured I could fake it. The fanciest place around is M Lounge, formerly known as Ten Martini and Cigar Bar. Evidently, a Dallas nightclub that had copyrighted the name got wind of the Fort Worth bar of the same name — almost two years after the Fort Worth bar had opened — and threatened legal action, hence M Lounge.
Fortunately, we wandered in around happy hour. Unfortunately, none of the items on the extensive and expensive menu was happy-hour priced or part of the tax-free weekend, except for the dirty martini, ordered by one of my crew. After a couple Oatmeal Cookies (vanilla vodka, Bailey’s, Goldschlager) and Patrón martinis, none of us really cared, though.
About a dozen women were scattered about the place. You could count the guys on one hand: the bartender, the older dude smoking a pipe (odd, even for a martini/cigar bar), and the guy who watched his girl get smashed on Seagrams. I don’t know if M’s vibe is always so “girl’s night out,” but the whole lot of us sang an estrogen-and-alcohol fueled chorus of Pink’s “U + Ur Hand” as if we were callin’ out a misfortunate cowboy who’d just accidentally stepped on our pedicures. Ever heard a whole bar-ful of women singing, “I’m not here for your entertainment / You don’t wanna mess with me tonight”? Trust me, if you’re a guy, you probably don’t want to. The guys at M were visibly squirming.
With football season just kicking off, M Lounge might be the ideal place for the girly girls to go to spend their Sunday afternoons while the boys are whooping it up at the nearest sports bars. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say it is. – Laurie Barker James

Free Beer! And Boxed Wine! And Assorted Cheese Cubes!
Hundreds if not thousands of people, hopping gaily or slipping and sliding tipsily from local gallery to gallery and local museum to museum, noshing on free finger-foods, sucking down free booze, and, y’know, maybe looking at art — must be Fall Gallery Night, an annual event now in its 31st year and easily the biggest citywide party night Fort Worth has ever had.
My advice, specifically for couples: Travel in small groups, preferably of other couples or close mutual friends. The last thing any significant other wants, after having a few cold ones, is to be left alone with his or her partner in the presence of art — bickering over, say, color theory’s relevance to installation pieces or cinema’s (deleterious? necessary?) influence on contemporary painting. Such discussions all too often lead to someone’s spending the night on the couch. In a group setting, you can always count on some sort of distraction to preclude heated debate between loved ones. Just my two cents.
Anyway, on Saturday, a couple dozen local galleries, museums, and other exhibition spaces will open their doors to the unwashed, starting at 6 p.m. and, depending on the locality, wrapping up around 10 or 11 p.m., giving revelers just enough time to hit nearby bars for last call. Participating spaces include Artspace 111, Edmund Craig Gallery, Fort Worth Community Arts Center, Gallery 414, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, William Campbell Contemporary Art, and many more.
Here’s some heads-up based on past Gallery Night experiences. Haute Fort Worth and the young, fashionable descendants thereof typically hang out at a couple places, most notably Bill Campbell’s (4935 Byers Ave., in Arlington Heights) and 111 (111 Hampton St., downtown). At 111, you’ll also some young, ragged bohemians, and the place is much larger than Bill Campbell’s. Actually, Artspace 111 is probably the most spacious gallery around.
For edgy stuff and vibes geared more toward the bohos, Studio 5 (1018 W. Shaw St.) will feature new, adventurous work by Greg Bahr, Christopher Blay (a former Weekly critic’s choice for best visual artist), Jill Foley, Jesse Sierra Hernandez, and the intriguingly named Pussyhouse Propaganda.
The party, incidentally, gets started the night before. On Friday around happy hour on the South Side, Fort Worth South Inc. presents Arts Goggle, an evening when Southside bars and clubs get busy early and when Southside retailers stay open past normal business hours and effectively transform themselves into music venues and art galleries — and places to score some cheap and/or free hooch. Check out – Anthony Mariani

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