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NHL All-Star Celebration
HOCKEY WILL NEVER BE FOOTBALL. In Texas, at least, this truth is self-evident: No matter how many hockey fans rise up in defense of their sport (or write letters to a certain magazine’s editor decrying yet another football cover, as the case may be), the puck will never outrank the pigskin.
But hold on a sec. Before you go dismissing the icy pastime as nothing more than brawling on skates, there’s something you should know: Hockey is enjoying an unprecedented resurgence, and Texas is right in the middle of it. In fact, the NHL has picked our home state—and our home team, the Dallas Stars—to host this year’s All-Star Celebration. After surviving the longest lockout in professional sports history, which wiped out the entire 2004–2005 season, the left-for-dead league would have thrown an All-Star shindig last year, except the Winter Olympics got in the way. Now that the midseason tradition is being resurrected for good, hockey finally returns to full strength this month, and we’ve got front-row seats.
The impending All-Star circus is being hyped as a coming-out party for the “new” NHL, which prides itself on being more thrilling than ever (more scoring! More shoot-outs! More power plays!) and more evenly dispersed with talent, thanks to the magic of rule changes and an infamous salary cap, respectively. But the true aim of the three-day exhibition—with its fan-favorite SuperSkills competition (who’s the fastest skater of them all?), the Young Stars game (such studly Eastern Europeans!), and a tribute to some of the game’s all-time greats (is that Wayne Gretzky?)—is to bolster the league’s momentum, rewarding loyal devotees and luring in new ones with its obscenely talented roster. At this rate it’s going to be as popular as Dallas Stars center Mike Modano in a sorority house.
So, you might ask, of all the cities that have a pro hockey team, the pressure to prove that the sport’s mojo is back is on…Dallas? Well, while you were busy reading Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, ice rinks were springing up, youngsters were signing up, and minor leaguers were lacing up around the state. Ever since the Dallas Stars came to town thirteen years ago, the sport’s been quietly on the rise: In the Metroplex alone there are thousands of registered players, up from a few hundred, while across the state there are now busloads of high school squads, up from approximately zero. Everything’s up. And we still can’t wrap our minds around the fact that Texas has more professional teams than any other state.
What’s more, our home team is playing—and winning—with gusto these days. Though fan voting for the All-Star game doesn’t end until early this month, at least a couple of our Stars should make the team, most likely Modano (the sentimental pick) and goalie Marty Turco (one of the best this season). To see them go up against some of the Eastern Conference standouts who rarely make stops here will really be a treat. So quit obsessing over what you’ll serve at your Super Bowl party; it’s time to feel the buzz and expand your sporting horizons. This may just be hockey country after all. Jan 22–24. American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave; 214-467-8277; dallasstars.com
The Filter: Events
by Jordan Breal and David A. Herron
What Are Friends For?
No artist, whether he admits it to himself or not, can escape the influence of his fellow creatives. But for a resourceful mastermind like Andy Warhol, collaborating with his peers was an excellent way to enliven his muse and, in turn, stimulate his career. Two of the Pop Art prince’s alliances—first with realist Jamie Wyeth and later with bad-boy graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat—have been memorialized in the traveling exhibition “Factory Work: Warhol, Wyeth, Basquiat,” now at the McNay Art Museum. Though it would seem on the surface that Warhol and his much younger protégés had little in common, he enjoyed professional and personal relationships with both. In the seventies, Warhol and Wyeth flitted about New York together, shopping for antiques, collecting taxidermy animals, and tape-recording their conversations at Warhol’s behest. But whereas Wyeth was creating rich oil portraits, often set in rural scenes, and using painstakingly meticulous processes, Warhol was taking rapid-fire Polaroids and dashing off mass-produced silk screens. And yet the oddly matched pair found middle ground painting each other. Perhaps the most haunting of the dozens of pieces included in “Factory Work” is Wyeth’s rendering of Warhol, an eerie, see-every-pimple portrait. Also fascinating are the duo’s divergent images of Rudolf Nureyev, Jimmy Carter, and the Kennedys. “Our work was diametrically opposite” is how Wyeth put it recently (he’ll join art historian Robert Rosenblum on January 18 to discuss his more than fifteen minutes with Warhol). Just as surprising was the friendship that blossomed in the eighties between Warhol and the outrageous Basquiat, known for hawking his painted T-shirts on the street and converting a garbage can lid into a painter’s palette (the exhibit wouldn’t have been complete without it). Two of Warhol’s most famous depictions of Basquiat—one of the young Brooklynite wearing a jockstrap and posing as Michelangelo’s David, another made from Liquitex paints, copper metal powder, and urine—are must-sees here. Indeed, the energy that Warhol drew from both Wyeth and Basquiat is still quite palpable throughout this exhibit, though now it’s the viewer who’s reaping the rewards. Jan 17–Apr 8. 6000 N. New Braunfels, 210-824-5368, mcnayart.org
To read Joan Didion’s writing is to feel as if you know her, so direct are her thoughts. Her most recent work, 2005’s The Year of Magical Thinking, an affecting memoir that chronicles the grief she felt following her husband’s death, is Didion’s most personal yet. In a rare appearance (she canceled her book tour in the fall of 2005 and other appearances earlier this year), the reserved writer will spend an evening reading a passage from her National Book Award–winning latest and sitting for a live interview with texas monthly executive editor Mimi Swartz. Jan 7. Wortham Theater Center, Cullen Theater, 501 Texas Ave; 713-521-2026; inprint-inc.org
El Paso, Corpus Christi
Written for a small group of instruments—usually a violin, viola, cello, and piano—chamber music is performed sans conductor, and though it lacks the complexity of a full symphony orchestra, the payoff is a more revealing conversation of sorts between the players. Two such groups, in two very different pockets of the state, bring us their best this month. First, El Paso Pro-Musica presents its annual El Paso Chamber Music Festival, a series featuring some seventeen performances around the city. Joining artistic director Zuill Bailey will be the Juilliard String Quartet, the Kalichstein Laredo Robinson Trio, and pianists Awadagin Pratt and Navah Perlman. Clear across the state, the Corpus Christi Chamber Music Society will mark its twenty-fifth anniversary with a special concert at the newly reopened Art Museum of South Texas. The American String Quartet is set to play works by Mozart and Shostakovich, and violist James Dunham and cellist Norman Fischer (both from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music) will entertain with Brahms’ Sextet in G Major, opus 36. El Paso: Jan 6—28. Various locations, 915-833-9400, eppm.org. Corpus Christi: Jan 20. 1902 N. Shoreline Blvd, 361-855-0264
San Antonio, Houston
Don’t put those pom-poms away just yet. You’ve got a couple more chances to play armchair quarterback this month: First, the best high school players in the nation (no, they’re not all from Texas) show off for drooling collegiate boosters and pro scouts in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Then the country’s oldest college football all-star game—that’d be the East-West Shrine Game, recently relocated to Houston—kicks off its eighty-second matchup, with Don Shula’s Easterners going up against Dan Reeves’s best of the West. And after that? Well, it’s never too early to start prepping for fall ball. All-American Bowl: Jan 6. Alamodome, 100 Montana, San Antonio; 210-224-9600; usarmyallamericanbowl.com. East-West Shrine Game: Jan 20. Reliant Stadium, Reliant Park, Loop 610S at 8400 Kirby Dr, Houston; 866-468-3926; shrinegame.com
They’re Red Hot
Critics claim that the group has softened up and abandoned its once-high-charged punk-funk rambunctiousness for slower, more earnest (gasp!) ballads. Fans believe the band still has its mojo and has simply matured since its why-wear-clothes origins. One thing both sides can agree on, though, is that when it comes to putting on a rousing show, the Red Hot Chili Peppers deliver. Armed with a catalog spanning 23 years, including 2006’s mammoth 28-song Stadium Arcadium, the L.A. foursome is crisscrossing the world once again—and for the most part, fully clothed. For Gnarls Barkley, the record-breaking psychedelic-soul duo behind “Crazy,” last year’s surprise hit, dressing up—as the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man, droogs (from A Clockwork Orange), and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader—has been their MO. Gnarls will open for the Chili Peppers on the current leg of their ongoing North American tour. What either band shows up wearing (or not) is anybody’s guess. Jan 13. American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave; 214-373-8000; americanairlinescenter.com
Fit for a King
“It takes a real leader to look beyond the immediate emotional satisfaction—and even the academic justification—of throwing up a middle finger in the face of the oppressor, and see the bigger picture.” If you’ve read Juan Williams’s latest book (the provocative Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America—And What We Can Do About It) or heard his interviews on National Public Radio or seen his political shoot-outs on Fox News, then you already know he’s a man of impassioned opinion. The former Washington Post correspondent takes to the lectern this month as part of a symposium on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy, hosted by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. The event’s emphasis will be on King’s vision for America’s future, but it’ll be Williams’s own predictions—and his scathing criticism of current black leaders—that will provoke discussion. Jan 15. Belo Mansion, 2101 Ross Ave; 214-871-2440; dallasinstitute.org
When Antonín Dvorák wrote his great Cello Concerto in B Minor, opus 104, during a three-year stay in New York in the mid-1890’s, it seems no one was more surprised than the composer himself. Apparently, the Czech master always thought the cello to be completely insufficient for a solo concerto. But what Dvorák may have lacked in foresight he certainly made up for in faith, and his risk pays off (yet again) this month when the prodigious Yo-Yo Ma performs the piece alongside the Houston Symphony. Ma, the superstar cellist of our time, is positively “omnivorous,” with a vast and miscellaneous repertoire (from bluegrass and Argentinean tangos to traditional Chinese melodies and Hollywood scores). Ma’s endearing genius is worth the price of admission, especially when he sticks with more-classical fare: In addition to Dvorák’s concerto he’ll bring to life works by Dukas and Debussy. Of course, if you can’t score seats, you can always watch Ma’s past concerts on YouTube; it might not be the spiritual experience that you’ll get live, but you won’t miss a single facial tic. Jan 18—21. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana; 713-224-7575; houstonsymphony.org
Back to the Vault
The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, at the University of Texas at Austin, reaches the half-century mark this year, and as the say-ing goes, fifty never looked so good. What started as a modest rare-books collection in 1957 is now one of the nation’s most extensive repositories of cultural artifacts. Stored in its cache are the personal papers of many a literary great (Joyce, Twain, Hemingway, Mailer, Faulkner), one of the few copies of the Gutenberg Bible, the first photograph ever taken, collectibles from the lives of icons (Edgar Allan Poe’s desk, Marlon Brando’s address book), and, added just last year, Robert De Niro’s collection of film-related materials and photographer Arnold Newman’s archive. There’s a lot to love. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s Watergate files, famously purchased for $5 million in 2003, will be at the forefront of discussion this month. Both men will participate in the HRC’s one-day conference on the seventies scandal and the now-outed Deep Throat. Also this month, the HRC dives into its vault to present “The American Twenties,” an exhibition focused on the cultural and social changes of that capricious decade. And because it wouldn’t be a birthday without some fun, the HRC is throwing itself a party on January 31 (everyone is invited, and special gifts will be given to anyone named Harry and anyone also turning fifty this year). With scads more events and exhibitions already lined up for February and beyond, it’s shaping up to be a very good year. Watergate panel: Jan 18. “The American Twenties”: Jan 30—Jul 29. Birthday party: Jan 31. 21st & Guadalupe, 512-471-8944, hrc.utexas.edu
Paint or Bust
Henri Matisse was so prolific a painter that it’s easy to forget he was a sculptor of great talent too. This month the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center will attempt to ratchet up excitement for his lesser-known works with “Matisse: Painter as Sculptor,” their first-ever joint exhibition, which will run concurrently in the neighboring institutions. Anchored by more than forty sculptural pieces, the exhibit aims to reveal the interplay between the artist’s two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. The paintings included serve merely as contextual aides; the standouts are the figures, like his bronze Madeleine I and Madeleine II, his four bronze reliefs known as The Backs, and Jeannette I—V, a series of portrait busts. It will be quite interesting to see a single exhibit presented in two distinct venues—the hugely expansive DMA and the smaller, more intimate Nasher. But differences in milieu aside, the exhibit never strays from its overarching premise: The brilliance of Matisse’s sculptures should not be underestimated. Jan 21—Apr 29. Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood; 214-922-1200; dm-art.org. Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora; 214-242-5100; nashersculpturecenter.org
Go Jump in the Lake
Midwinter may not seem like the ideal time to head for the lake, but trust us: Bundle up, pour yourself a thermos of hot cocoa, and drive up to Lake Texoma this month for the WestEnd WinterFest. Instead of hibernating in your den, take advantage of this area’s natural beauty. Of course, you might freeze your buns off if you decide to take part in the Polar Bear Plunge, but there are plenty of other activities that don’t require making bodily sacrifices. If you like to fly, treat yourself via Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides to a panoramic view for a mere $5 or splurge on the $200 champagne flight. Those not yet old enough to vote (but who are at least eight) can take a free aircraft trip with Young Eagle Flights and survey the lake from high above. But if you’d rather stay grounded, Austin College naturalist Sandy Beach (great name) will point out the many geese, ducks, and birds of prey that call the region home on the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Field Trip. If water is your thing, cruise the lake on an eighty-foot party boat for the best views of nesting bald eagles (Eagle Quest Excursions) or go striper fishing; Lake Texoma is known as the striper capital of the world, so bring your tackle box and heed the advice of expert guides. Jan 27 & 28. Cedar Mills Marina and Resort, 500 Harbour View Dr & various locations; 903-523-5982; texomawestend.org