Regulator Bookshop—Lise Funderburg's memoir, Pig Candy, is about taking her dad home to the South after they learned he had terminal cancer. He bought a 126-acre farm in Georgia and went on pilgrimages there from Philadelphia, where they lived, until he died two years ago. Along the way, Funderburg learned about Southern exoticism and about her dad's strange love of farming. The biggest takeaway, though, was learning about her laconic and sometimes brutal father, a man who among Yankees was mistaken for white but who in rural Georgia was known for being from a place called Colored Folks Hill. "It was the only place where my father felt 100 percent black," Funderburg said in a recent interview.
Pig Candy is as much about the story of race as it is about one American's racial identity. Her dad had blue eyes, "high yellow" skin and straight hair. This child of the Great Depression and WWII veteran sometimes passed to imp ress his dark-complexioned friends, knowing the dangers of doing so in the Jim Crow Era. Yet when he moved as part of the Great Migration of rural Southern blacks to urban centers in the north, he found his racial identity wasn't nearly as fixed as he thought it was. "Later in life, he decided that race was a lie, that it didn't matter," Funderburg says. "He came to see himself as an American." Funderburg found the implications of this decision for a mixed-race woman like herself (her mother is white) too compelling to ignore. What does it mean to be an American when our culture forces people of mixed heritage to choose? And make no mistake — either/or remains strong. Just ask a Funderburg reader, who demanded to know the race of her dad's second wife. "Her enthusiasm for knowing was stunning." The reading begins at 7 p.m. —John Stoehr
Age of Arousal
Manbites Dog Theater—Despite a title that will prove as misleading to teenage boys as Naked Lunch, this is actually a comedy of manners set in 1885 Victorian England. Linda Griffiths' script involves a period when women outnumbered men in England by 500,000, an opportunity seized to help women make inroads into the workplace. The production runs through June 6 and is directed by Kevin Ewert. Tickets are $17 Fridays through Sunday and $12 on weeknights. Tonight's performance is a pay-what-you-can preview (with a $5 minimum). For more information, visit www.manbitesdogtheater.org or call 682-3343. Incidentally, Googling this play's title will get you some very inappropriate responses. —Zack Smith
Beauty and the Beast
Memorial Auditorium—The classic French fairy tale La Belle et la Bête has spawned many interpretations in the nearly three centuries since its initial publication, including Jean Cocteau's 1946 film, the 1991 Disney musical and the TV series with Ron Perlman's lion-faced avenger defending Linda Hamilton beneath the streets of New York. It's also proven a popular subject for theater and dance, and now the Carolina Ballet offers an all-new take that starts today. Carolina Ballet Artistic Director Robert Weiss choreographed this version, which features an original score and live music by Karl Moraski, costume designs by David Heuvel and scenery by Jeff A. R. Jones. Curtain for this all-ages show is at 8 p.m., and it runs through May 31. Tickets are $25 through Ticketmaster. For more information, visit www.carolinaballet.com. —Zack Smith
Joe Swank & the Zen Pirates
Local 506—Midwesterner turned Triangle-ite turned back to Midwesterner Joe Swank is a music biz multi-threat. As a disc jockey, he's a music sharer. (His Y'allternative show on Carrboro's WCOM is much missed.) As radio publicity guy at Chicago's Bloodshot Records, he's a music promoter. And as the guy out in front of the country-rocking Zen Pirates, he's a music maker. Swank soon will be able to share some music he's made, as a new record nears the end of its crawl to completion—a process that Swank likens to giving birth to a hippo on steroids. "The record has fought me the entire way," offers Swank. "In the time it has taken me to get this record from conception to reality, the entire industry has completely changed." By fall, those of us who've hung in will be rewarded with recordings of born-in-Carolina winners "Fool for You" and "Tomorrow's Just a Train Wreck Away," and maybe even a cover of "Strutter." In the meantime, catch those songs as they tumble off the Local 506 stage, with the Gram Parsons tribute band Sleepless Nights opening along with Lynn Blakey and Ecki Heins. Tickets are $5 and show time is 9 p.m. You have a second chance to catch Swank and Co. Sunday, May 31 at Sadlack's. —Rick Cornell