Cat's Cradle—Queer-hop pioneer Tim'm West again demonstrates hip-hop's transformational power on his new disc, In Security: The Golden Error. A self-professed heterosexually challenged bro-hemian, West is indeed a "Walking Contradiction," with a heady urbane sophistication that arose deep in the sticks.
Raised on a farm in tiny Taylor, Ark., he latched onto reggae, house and golden-age hip-hop as avenues of escape while cultivating his creative gifts (acting, dance, poetry) before alighting at Duke University. He was diagnosed HIV-positive a decade ago, spurring the first of several books, the autobiographical Red Dirt Revival. Meanwhile, he co-founded Bay Area outfit Deep Dickollective, which drew attention to its BourgieBohoPostPomoAfroHomo style (as per their second album), burying a striking signpost in hip-hop's notoriously homophobic landscape. The personal forthrightness of West's third solo release, In Security, provides its own power. Whether discussing his childhood "Stutter"—which turned Timothy into Tim'm, the name he took as a badge after speech therapy—or lambasting the "Fakery" that passes for keeping it real, West's literate baritone flows over generous R&B grooves, disarming you even as he snaps your skull cap with keen self-knowledge. The show is part of the Southeastern Regional Unity Conference. Pay $7-$10 at 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
On Earth's Furrowed Brow
N.C. Museum of History—Appalachia is the theme of tonight's reception and exhibition. Asheville photographer Tim Barnwell greets visitors to his show of mountain farm life images. Don Pedi and Carol Jones provide musical accompaniment on dulcimer and guitar, respectively. Barnwell's latest limited edition book, On Earth's Furrowed Brow, published by W.W. Norton, is "set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains, [and] over one hundred timeless black and white photographs provide a window onto a world that is quickly fading," according to promotional materials. Of course, the mountains are full of organic farmers these days, but it isn't the same. The reception runs from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight, as part of Raleigh's First Friday. Visit ncmuseumofhistory.org for more information. —David Fellerath
Laurie Halse Anderson
Quail Ridge Books & Music—A decade ago, Laurie Halse Anderson wasn't sure she'd even be able to publish her novel Speak, about a teenage girl dealing with rape. "I thought, 'I've written this strange little book, and I don't think it'll sell, but it was fun to write,'" she says. Instead, Speak went on to become a nationwide bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Award, and an acclaimed TV movie starring a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart. The novel is now being released in a 10th-anniversary edition with new material.
Anderson is at Quail Ridge tonight at 7:30 to promote both the release of Speak and her latest novel, Wintergirls. "Things have changed so much since the book was published, and I got so many responses from readers about Speak that I wanted to share the material with a wider audience," Anderson says.
Wintergirls, which deals with eating disorders, was also inspired by readers writing in about their own experiences. "It's kind of horrifying to get mail like that and know that kids are suffering so, and I wanted to write about it," Anderson says. Part of her research for the book was "internal," dealing with her own past body image problems: "I've never been far enough down the path to say I've had an eating disorder, but I've certainly wasted too many years not eating in a healthy way. When it came to understanding that kind of self-loathing, and the nasty messages in your head the characters have, those were pulled from my own experience."
Anderson feels there is a twin problem of obesity and trying too hard to be thin in the United States. "In our country, we have forgotten how to eat healthy food in a fun, reasonably healthy way, and we're also being held up to this impossible measurement," she says. "We're getting to the point where we're taking a deep breath and saying, 'Maybe we should base our sense of self on something other than the whims of advertisers.'"
Anderson feels that young adult literature is "the most vibrant field in literature today," praising such writers as Chapel Hill's Sarah Dessen. As to how she's able to write from a teenage perspective, the answer is simple: "I never left. I'm a 15-year-old with wrinkles," she says with a laugh. —Zack Smith
They Came From Beyond Space
N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences—There's considerable debate on the Internet over the merits of this unearthed piece of '60s sci-fi schlock about a crashed UFO and a group of zombified scientists. Is it bad enough to be, you know, good? "It is bad, but not exceptionally bad," gripes one self-styled critic. "The acting is frequently substandard, but it is decent just as often." Another, who seems to have dodged camp and irony altogether and taken the film at face value, praises it as "a very sophisticated update of Zontar, The Thing From Venus, albeit with considerably more finesse." The one point they all agree on—and I've read this sentence a dozen times—is that "one of the scientists has a metal plate in his head."
The A/V Geeks, tireless archivists and purveyors of our culture's celluloid pocket lint, present the latest installment of The Natural Horror Picture Show, their series of screenings at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Come with friends and attempt a DIY MST3K, or—shudder—suspend your disbelief and sympathize with the protagonist as he outfits his associates with mind-control-shielding colander-helmets. The free screening starts at 7 p.m. and includes a short from the A/V Geeks collection and a movie trivia quiz afterward. —Marc Maximov
On The Town
N.C. Museum of Art—Three sailors played by Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin search for fun and an elusive pin-up girl in New York City during a day of shore leave in On The Town, a 1949 film based on a Broadway musical of the same name. The score, written by Leonard Bernstein and Rodger Edens, won an Academy Award for Best Music. The film, directed by Gene Kelly, was shot both in studios and on location at many of the most famous landmarks in the city.
The film is presented by the Carolina Ballet in conjunction with its production of Fancy Free later this month, a ballet by Bernstein and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the Broadway choreographer famous for his work in Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Gypsy and Funny Girl. The pair collaborated on Fancy Free when they were both in their 20s—while many 20-year-olds were actually out on the town, they were writing ballets on the subject—and Fancy Free, also about three sailors' adventures, went on to inspire the music to On the Town.
On the Town is the first film of the N.C. Museum of Art's spring film series. Tickets and information can be found at www.ncartmuseum.org/events/films.shtml. The film begins at 8 p.m., and general admission tickets are $5. —Hobert Thompson
Regulator Bookshop—Do the clothes make the woman? Tiffany Ludwig and Renee Piechocki decided to find out by interviewing more than 500 women about what they wore and why they wore it. The results were recently published in Trappings: Stories of Women, Power and Clothing, which combines black and white photographs with text that describes how clothing reflects many larger issues involving women and society. The event begins at 7 p.m.; we're reasonably certain that you can dress casually. For more information, visit www.regulatorbookshop.com. —Zack Smith
Civil Rights conferences
Various locations, UNC Campus—The Triangle, and the nation, lost a towering figure in America historiography when the African-American scholar John Hope Franklin died last week. However, his legacy lives on this weekend with two conferences on the UNC campus that examine the legacy of the Civil Rights movement and the continuing battle against subtler forms of racism and segregation. More than 200 activists, historians, lawyers and others from across the country are expected to attend each meeting.
The first conference deals with the resegregation of schools and is titled "Looking to the Future: Legal and Policy Options for Racially Integrated Education in the South and the Nation."
The second conference is "The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories." It is highlighted by a talk by Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North. This is a free event for the general public; the rest of this weekend's events are more scholarly. Sugrue's address, "Jim Crow's Last Stand: Fighting Educational Inequality North and South," takes place at 7:30 tonight at UNC's Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. For more information, contact UNC's David Cline at 962-5931. —Zack Smith
Steve Howell & the Lonesome Teardrops
Berkeley Cafe—On Throwin' Rocks at the Moon, the full-length debut from the Triangle's late Backsliders, the song "Lonesome Teardrops" stands out as one of the record's few true honky-tonk moments. That's partially because of the tune's country and western swing and partially due to the natural ache in Steve Howell's voice as he takes a rare 'sliders lead. It's fitting, then, that the band Howell leads these days takes its name from that song: They play the kind of country music Howell likes, from bluegrass to, yep, true honky-tonk. Joining Howell and company on the bill are self-described "country-fried swamp & rollers" The Dune Dogs. The music starts at 9 p.m., and $10 gets you through the door. —Rick Cornell
Throughout downtown—Strategies for stoking downtown revivals take on all shapes. Tonight, for example, there's a scavenger hunt in Raleighwood, with $2,500 in cash and prizes at stake. Sponsored by the N.C. Museum of Art Contemporaries and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, participants need fork over only $20 per team (or $30 on the day of, which is today) and then, for three hours beginning at 6 p.m., sniff out their quarry—which will often be in a local art gallery. The event is designed, we're told, to "encourage people to go to all of the little places that may be off the beaten track." Those who hit the track with the most efficient gusto will be in line for a $1,000 grand prize, to be awarded at the afterparty at Tir Na Nog. Registration and check-in take place in the City Market, at the corner of Martin and Parham streets from 5 to 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.YouRHere.com/FirstFriday. —David Fellerath