The Drop Everything List
Underground Kingz, Sandra Cisneros, Wassailfest, and Phillip Glass . . .
Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the induction of the hip-hop duo Underground Kingz to the Museum of the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame to a performance by the esteemed composer Phillip Glass. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[December 1–December 8]
Notes From Underground
Soon the youth of Port Arthur will grow up learning the story of Bun B and Pimp C, otherwise known as UGK, or Underground Kingz. The Grammy-nominated hip-hop duo, which brought the slang terms “trill” and “purple drank” to the popular lexicon, helped catapult the Texas rap scene to national prominence when it was featured on Three 6 Mafia’s single “Sippin’ on Some Syrup.” The group suffered a major blow in 2007 when Pimp C (Chad Butler) died from sleep apnea. To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their debut album, Too Hard to Swallow, Bun B (Bernard Freeman) will represent the UGK as the group is inducted into the Music Hall of Fame at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. “We personally invited a lot of people out who contributed to UGK,” said Freeman, a lecturer on hip-hop and religion at Rice University. “I’m assuming that it will be a very emotional moment.” The free event is open to the public and will be marked with a new permanent exhibit featuring UGK’s awards, memorabilia and handwritten lyrics. Freeman is especially proud that he has been able to realize his dream on his own terms. “We didn’t schmooze,” he said. “We didn’t politic. We didn’t kiss music-industry butt. And we’re still recognized by people who don’t necessarily understand what we do but acknowledge that we’re making a difference.”
Museum of the Gulf Coast, December 2, 2 p.m., museumofthegulfcoast.org
Miracles Do Come True
When Sandra Cisneros, the acclaimed author of The House on Mango Street, put her funky San Antonio house up for sale last year, it sparked chatter on why the local literary legend would leave behind the city she helped define. But Cisneros has not left Texas yet and will be available for a book-signing at the Cara Mía Theatre Co.’s debut of Milagritos, a play based in part on “Little Miracles, Kept Promises” a vignette from her short-story collection Woman Hollering Creek. The troupe will sing and dance to tell the saga of a devout female painter who is ostracized by her family and community because she is a fiercely independent outsider, and who petitions the Virgin of Guadalupe and various saints for strength. The poetry of Cisneros’s award-winning prose is especially beautiful when spoken on stage. “Her use of language is phenomenal,” said David Lozano, who will direct Marisela Barrera’s adaptation for the first time. “One actress said, ‘I feel like I’m performing Shakespeare.’ The sounds of the words—especially the vowels—really express emotion.”
Cara Mía Theatre Co., December 1-15, various times, caramiatheatre.org
Philip Glass, the cabbie turned highly influential minimalist composer, will close out the Menil Collection’s twenty-fifth anniversary festivities with a performance including a piece written for the Houston museum. Long gone are tickets to the 1,108 seats in the great tent on the front lawn where Glass will play, but patrons are welcome to occupy the rest of the grounds to hear him. He will run through several etudes and jump from “Metamorphoses,” the set of pieces inspired by Errol Morris’s film The Thin Blue Line and a staging of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, to “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” a collaboration with Allen Ginsberg on his anti-war poem. Listen for étude No. 17, the debut of an original work commissioned by the Menil.
The Menil Collection, December 2, 12 p.m., menil.org
Assail the Wassail
Wassail acts as both a noun and a verb. Wassail is a warm, alcoholic beverage—traditionally a mulled wine or ale served with apples. And in a practice called “wassailing,” people take the drink from door to door, passing out bowls like carolers would dole out songs. Wassailfest in downtown New Braunfels—a community with strong ties to this German tradition—carries on the ritual in earnest. About fifty vendors prepare their own batches of wassail in pursuit of one of three “wassail meister” awards. This fuels people to sing “Here We Go A-Wassailing” under the glow of 100,000 Christmas lights and to the sounds of a street-corner oompah band.
Downtown, December 6, 6 p.m., nbtexas.org
Walk the Line
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the debut novel by the Dallas author Ben Fountain, has been deemed the Catch-22 of the Iraq War, and universalizes the American identity so well that Texans fans at this Houston reading are likely to excuse all of the Cowboys references.
Domy Books, December 3, 6:30 p.m., domystore.com
The theme of this year’s TEDxSMU, part of the international “smart person” speaker series, is “re:think”—as in Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, rethinking the meaning of love.
City Performance Hall, December 1, 9 a.m., tedxsmu.org