Six Must-Attend Events: Dec. 6-14
The state's top events and offerings, from the fortieth anniversary of Dickens on the Strand to a festival celebrating tamales, the pre-wrapped food that makes a great Christmas gift.
Brad Zellar, a writer, and Alec Soth, a photographer, travel the country and report whatever stories they want, largely on their own schedule. Since May 2012, they have self-published five editions of their 48-page, 2,000-run print newspaper, the LBM Dispatch (Little Brown Mushroom). Each issue has tackled a particular state—Ohio, New York, Michigan, California, and Colorado—and their forthcoming sixth edition will cover Texas. The latest edition, called Texas Triangle, will document a nearly three-week road trip through Dallas and Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, where on Friday at the Harry Ransom Center they will host a newspaper-preview event, a pop-up exhibition, which will augment the Ransom Center’s continuing exhibition “Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos Into the Digital Age.”
“The openness of the people in Texas is just staggering,” Zellar said. He and Soth, both Minnesotans, went to a Texas cheerleading competition, a high school football game, two wildly different church services and some JFK remembrances.
“You go out there,” Zellar said, “and as corny as it sounds, you see things that are incredibly appalling, but you also see all sorts of stuff that’s really inspiring and encouraging.”
Harry Ransom Center, December 6, 7 p.m., hrc.utexas.edu
Americans who were unable to cross the pond last year for Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday can still fete him. Dickens on the Strand, Galveston’s annual re-creation of Victorian-era London, will celebrate not only its own fortieth anniversary as a festival but also the 170th anniversary of Dickens’s classic short novel A Christmas Carol.
“I think Carol stands the test of time because it was written from the heart,” Lucinda Hawksley, Dickens’s great-great-great-granddaughter, said in an email. “And the themes that Dickens wrote about—loneliness, the need for compassion, the pinch of poverty, ensuring children are nurtured, not ignored—are themes that will always remain relevant.”
Dickens on the Strand will expand to three days this year to include more programming and encourage more Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim look-alikes. (Countless performers dress up as Dickens characters, and guests who wear costumes receive half-price admission.)
The bonus activities on Friday include an elegant Victorian-style dinner, with Hawksley, and a live performance of A Christmas Carol, with an introduction by Jane Monk, who is Dickens’s great-great-granddaughter.
Downtown, December 6-8, galvestonhistory.org
When Gaia, the one-named street artist from Baltimore, was doing research for “Marshland,” a site-specific mural of Houston on display through this weekend at the Rice University Art Gallery, he was struck by Freedmen’s Town, now the Fourth Ward neighborhood, where emancipated slaves once settled. In particular, he was enamored of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, a small structure built in the 1870s that is now dwarfed by skyscrapers.
“It totally encapsulates the nature of Houston as a relentlessly new and forward-thinking place that is willing to sacrifice its history and any sort of moment of preservation, except for some of the most important specimens,” Gaia said in a promotional video.
This juxtaposition of old and new is depicted in the mural, which is an outsider’s take on the modernization of Houston and its increasingly international population, aimed at giving residents an objective look at their city’s history.
Rice Gallery, December 6-8, ricegallery.org
Since Texans don’t grow up with sports played in the ice and snow, perhaps a Winter Olympics tutorial is in order before the games begin in Sochi, Russia, on February 7. The Road to Sochi Tour stops in Dallas this weekend, and besides the chance to cheer on hopefuls and champions, there will be interactive tutorials on several sports, including curling, which Will Ferrell (in character as Ron Burgundy, anchorman) championed last Sunday at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials.
Klyde Warren Park, December 7-8, teamusa.org
There have been memorial readings of the writings of David Rakoff, the Canadian-born New Yorker humor essayist and “This American Life” commentator who died in 2012, but FrenetiCore’s “there is no answer as to why me: A Dance Tribute to David Rakoff” may be the only remembrance in dance, which was one of his first loves.
Frenetic Theater, Decemer 6, 7, 9, 13 & 14, 8 p.m., freneticore.net
If you’re already sweating over what to get the person who has everything, consider the offerings at the Tamales Holiday Festival, where more than forty tamale vendors will recreate in spirit a tamalada, a post-Thanksgiving get-together among Latino families in which mass quantities of tamales are made assembly-line style to be given later as Christmas presents.
Pearl, December 7, 12 p.m., atpearl.com