Superjam and golden dragons

by Ted Holteen

Seems if you want wisdom nowadays, you need look no further than the car in front of you. The bumper sticker industry has reduced most issues of serious debate down to a few pithy words that fit onto a 12-by-3-inch banner and do little more than lower the value of your car at resale and might even get you pulled over if the cop behind you thinks that people willing to snowboard in hell, should it freeze over, also smoke pot. But the industry is not a completely useless one, as even some of the most clichéd decals do hold a modicum of truth. Like the old one that reads something to the effect of “Wouldn’t it be great if schools had all the money they need and the Navy had to hold a bake sale to buy a new submarine?” Sorry, I don’t have one on my car to check the exact wording, but it’s been around forever and the point is still well taken. Just ask any business owner in Durango how local do-gooders not on the Pentagon’s payroll meet their budgets and that business owner will answer, “Me.” For about the cost of keeping 25 soldiers in Iraq for a month, every nonprofit in La Plata County could meet its annual budget and still have some money left over for raises and maybe even a Christmas (oops, I mean “holiday”) party. But I’m a dreamer, and as luck would have it, the bumper sticker was right. And so the caretakers of the local economy each week kick in a gift certificate or some free food or there’s another fund-raising concert happening at someone’s venue for free, and Durango’s volunteers again work harder than most of those on the government’s payroll. Seems almost silly, doesn’t it?

I bring all this up for a reason, of course. In the latest instance of hard-working, dedicated people laboring to better the community through cultural enrichment on a Cub Scout Troop’s budget, The Durango Independent Film Festival is all set to kick things off on March 1. Except for not having enough money. To help out, a bunch of nice local musicians are having one of those fund-raising concerts I mentioned earlier, The San Juan Superjam, Friday night at the Abbey Theatre. Getting things under way at 9 p.m. is Caitlin Demuth, who recently took home the better part of $149 as the Gong Show champion act. I won’t try to explain Caitlin’s act, but if you miss it you’ll be sorry. It’s something to behold. Next up is The Frank Trio, rumored to be joined onstage by Steve Stokes for vocal enhancement. Finally, Hotmops will play a specially designed set that should include numerous movie theme songs (remember, it’s a fund-raiser for the Film Festival), and along the way there should be a bunch of special guests and whatnot. Throughout the night, there’ll be prize giveaways and the debut of Ska’s new Film Festival brew, DIFF Beer, which alone should be worth the price of admission. Also, look for DIFF in local liquor stores, like Wagon Wheel, really soon. There is no foundation, however, to the rumor put out on bumper stickers by Gabe Fidanque that the non-Wagon Wheel batches of DIFF were tainted with exceedingly high levels of mercury. None. I swear.

Remember how impressed I was by the entertainment made available last week by Fort Lewis College? Well, I was. And they’re at it again this week, with music, theater and those irresistible acrobats. First, the theater. This sounds very cool – “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” In short, three actors run through all 37 of The Bard’s plays (and the sonnets) in under two hours. If nothing else, you might at least learn the plots of works that we’re all supposed to know but never took the time to actually read. I had been relying on “The Simpsons” for such knowledge in recent years, but this seems even easier, and it’s all in one place. That’s in the Gallery Theater, which is a very strange and wonderful place to see bastardized Shakespeare. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday this weekend and next weekend, all starting at 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday at 3 p.m., the San Juan Symphony visits the Concert Hall for a matinee of “Spanish Roots,” intended to pay tribute to the Spanish heritage of the American Southwest. Included are works by Georges Bizet (who was French, but “Carmen” was set in Spain), Carlos Surinach (Spanish & lovin’ it), and Emmanuel Chabrier (also French, but famed for his rhapsody “España”). The musicians are refreshingly non-Gallic, and have spicy Spanish names like Encinias and Chuscales to prove it.

Fun yes, but it will be hard to compete with Monday night’s offering at the Concert Hall, when those Chinese Golden Dragon Acrobats make their miraculous return to the Four Corners. I say “miraculous,” because by all rights these people should be crippled or dead by now, doing what they do for a living. Then again, if you believe the word on the street, those of us who ate at the ol’ Golden Dragon restaurant should probably be dead as well. Tough race, we humans. These Golden Dragons warm up by beating up on the Cirque du Soleil crowd, who are mere gymnasts compared to real acrobats. It starts at 7 p.m., and don’t be late or you might get kicked in the head by a little girl who can somehow carry 1,400 pounds on her back while riding a bicycle.

There are also a couple of upcoming shows that you’ll need to act on now to avoid the shutout. Next Friday at the Abbey, the alternative past and present collide as David Lowery projects Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker bring together music geeks of the ’80s and ’90s for one big show. The geeks after the ’90s should still be too young to go to bars to see good throwback music. It will sell out, as will the DAM Tim O’Brien show at the Diamond Circle on March 16. They’re already thinking about adding a second O’Brien show, and if you wait you probably won’t get into that one, either. Southwest Sound is your best bet to get tickets for both the CVB/Cracker and Tim O’Brien shows. Don’t dawdle.

One more thing – if you missed the screening of “Growing Democracy” at the Abbey last month, there will be a free showing TODAY (Thursday) at Mill Street Brews in downtown Bayfield. That’s the coffee joint conveniently located next to Ted’s Books, also in downtown Bayfield. This was the movie where FLC grad Keya Lea Horiuchi went around asking everyone in the world his or her opinion of the USA. Without giving away the plot, they don’t like us very much. Keya will be on hand to discuss the film, which starts at 7 p.m.

If you’re near the Lost Dog on Monday night and you know Beezer, stop in and wish him a happy 30th. Do it early, as there will be drinks served, most of them to Beez, and he may not recall the entire guest list. If you don’t know Beez, go somewhere else, like to the acrobat show.

What’s the best bumper sticker you’ve seen this week? Got through the whole column without mentioning Liggett once.

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