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August—People, Places, Events, Attractions
To celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, the Inprint Brown Reading Series has invited a writer whose penchant for eccentricity, outspokenness, and outlandishness (in print at least) equals that of his host city. John Irving, that master of weirdly irresistible characters and extravagant, tragically comic plots (or is it comically tragic plots?) returns to Houston after a twenty-year absence to read from his new work, Until I Find You. The author of eleven novels, including The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, and A Widow for One Year, is known as a man who doesn’t mince words in fiction or fact—in person he’s taken on pro-lifers and censorship-loving feminists—and so following the reading will speak his mind in an interview conducted by Inprint board member yours truly. No circus dwarfs or dancing bears allowed; everyone else is welcome. Mimi Swartz
(For directions and more information, see Other Events, Houston John Irving).
COMING ATTRACTIONS | The month in Elvis.
Always on My Mind
Every Elvis fan has his or her reasons for being so, well, enthusiastic. Why does Los Fresnos resident Simon Vega hold two Elvis memorial festivals—in January to mark the King’s birth and this month to mark his August 16, 1977, demise? First, you should know that Vega got to know Presley in the Army. Second, Vega likes to show off the extensive collection of Elvis memorabilia he’s gathered in an upstairs room of his house, which he’s dubbed Little Graceland. Third, “I like making people happy,” he says, “and they’re happy when they remember Elvis.” The theme at the celebration on August 13 is the 1963 movie Fun in Acapulco, in which Elvis dives off cliffs and romances Ursula Andress. There’ll be an unprecedented eight impersonators in attendance and plenty of food and drink to go around. “A lot of people come and get real emotional,” says Vega. “Elvis had something in him I don’t think anybody else ever had.” Michael Hall
(For directions and more information, see Other Events, Los Fresnos Elvis Memorial Festival).
It’s Good to be The King
Identity theft may be a criminal offense, but for Elvis Presley tribute artist Donnie Roberts, it’s a way of life. On August 8 the Austinite will head to Las Vegas and vie for a spot in a worldwide reality-TV contest for the best Elvis impersonator.
What’s your favorite part of your routine?
Getting people involved. I’ll get down in the audience, tease them with scarves. I’ll wipe my head and say, “You want some Elvis sweat, do ya?”
How many outfits do you have?
Eight. I like to switch out. Elvis had two or three hundred, I think. Maybe four hundred. One costume I have is called the Aloha, and it has over three thousand studs on it.
You must practice your dance moves.
Every day. It’s a workout, I tell ya. They oughta make an Elvis workout video.
What about the singing?
I’ll listen to Elvis and sing along with him to learn a song. When I first started out, I was pretty stinkin’ bad. But now I’ve got one of the closest Elvis voices in the world. There’s about ten of us who do.
Do you grow the sideburns?
Yeah. And I dye my hair once a month to keep it jet-black.
You’re hoping to compete for the title of best impersonator in the world. Ultimately, what makes a good Elvis?
Good looks, a good voice, and good moves—you’ve got to have all three. If you’ve got all three, you’ve got it made in the shade. Tasha Petty
He’s left the building: Where else to commemorate that other day the music died.
Dallas: Don your best sequined bell-bottoms and warm up for the 5K Elvis Run on August 13 with a few pelvis thrusts and air guitar riffs. No blue-suede running shoes? Check out the area’s best impersonators and a classic-car show of sweet rides.
(For directions and more information, see Sports, Dallas Elvis Run).
Denton: National Elvis Week kicks off here on August 6 with the Elvis Is Rockin’ Downtown Scavenger Hunt. Chase down the life-size cutouts, souped-up sunglasses, and spangled jumpsuits scattered throughout stores and restaurants for a $250 cash prize and a vacation package that includes a stay at Memphis’s Heartbreak Hotel. Jordan Breal
(For directions and more information, see Other Events, Denton Elvis is Rockin’ Downtown Scavenger Hunt).
ON THE ROAD: Three reasons to get in your car and go.
Remember that first kiss on the bench seat of your sweetheart’s car as the tide swelled over Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity? Or kicking back in the family station wagon with a blanket and a bucket of popcorn? Yes, the glory days of the drive-in may be long gone—Texas’s four-hundred-odd outdoor screens have dwindled to a mere sixteen since the fifties—but with the opening of the Big Sky theater this month, you can make those memories anew. Developers Sam Kirkland and Ray Allen “Skeet” Noret know a thing or two about drive-ins (Kirkland owns the popular Sky-Vue theater, in Lamesa, which Noret helped build in 1948), and they hope that Big Sky’s two screens, playground, music stage, and five-thousand-square-foot concession stand will attract families and first dates alike. Their trademarked Chihuahua sandwich—a concoction of chili, onions, shredded cabbage, and pimento cheese in a corn tortilla—surely will. Jessica Norman Dupuy
(For directions and more information, see Points of Interest, Midland Big Sky Drive In).
Baby, You Can Drive My Car
Want more Chihuahua? The Stars and Stripes, in Lubbock, also serves the sandwich, thanks to drive-in family connections: Owner Ryan Smith is Skeet Noret’s grandson. For historic ambience, settle in before sunset at San Antonio’s Santikos Mission 4, where the fading light on the eroded limestone of the nearby San José Mission is a scenic bonus. As for where best to pair that summer blockbuster with a nice cold beer? The Crossroads Drive-in, in Shiner, where the hardest part of your day will be standing in line at the nearby Spoetzl Brewery. Jessica Norman Dupuy
A century after its last use as a navigational beacon, the Port Isabel Lighthouse has been reenvisioned as an outdoor cinema. So find yourself some summer loving on August 12, when the 72-foot tower’s stark white facade will serve as the projection screen for Grease. Sprawl out on the grass with your blanket and snuggle with your own T-Bird or Pink Lady a mere half block from the Laguna Madre. Jordan Breal
(For directions and more information, see Points of Interest, Port Isabel Lighthouse Establishment Cinema)
You’ll want a reliable vehicle and maybe a brake check for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s latest movie-watching venture: the 2005 Rolling Roadshow Tour. The Austin-based company, known for the wacky stunts it pulls on its customers (inner-tube seating at a lake for a nighttime showing of Jaws, a Goonies viewing at the bottom of a cave), takes its antics west for eleven outdoor screenings of pop-culture classics in the very places they were filmed. The six-thousand-mile, 21-day pilgrimage will include stops in Roswell, New Mexico (It Came From Outer Space); at Lake Powell in Arizona (Planet of the Apes); and in Bakersfield, California (North by Northwest). But the giant inflatable screen’s first stop is in Texas: On August 19 Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd will reappear in Archer City in The Last Picture Show; director Peter Bogdanovich will be there in person. Start your engines; it’s gonna be a wild trip west. Jessica Norman Dupuy
(For directions and more information, see Points of Interest, Archer City 2005 Alamo Rolling Roadshow).