Big D
June 24, 1998, was the best of times and the worst of times for Dallas basketball fans. That’s when the Mavericks made a draft-day trade for Dirk Nowitzki, the German big man who then looked like a complete dud of a pick but ultimately blossomed into a surefire Hall of Famer, helping the Mavs win their first and only NBA Championship, in 2011. The documentary Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot—opening Friday with Dallas area screenings at the Magnolia Theatre, the Texas Theatre, and two Studio Movie Grill locations—traces the German wunderkind’s rise from a nobody to a superstar who joined one-name wonders like Bird, Jordan, Kobe, and Magic as the only players in the NBA to be picked for at least ten All-Star Games and to be awarded both the League MVP and Finals MVP. Emmy Award–winning filmmaker Leopold Hoesch produced the movie, featuring interviews with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and NBA greats like Yao Ming, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd. The documentary delves into Nowitzki’s twenty-year relationship with Holger Geschwindner, the unorthodox personal basketball coach and guru who helped his student develop the best jump shot to ever grace the hands of a seven-footer. Nowitzki’s former teammate Michael Finley likens Geschwindner and Nowitzki to the mad scientist and Frankenstein. In an interview with Texas Monthly, Nowitzki elaborated on their partnership: “I would never be at this spot if it wasn’t for [Geschwindner]. He saw me play when I was fifteen or sixteen, and he told me, ‘You don’t have a lot of skills, but I can teach you.’”
Various locations, July 10, mavs.com


Cheese Whizzes
Before barbecue and breakfast tacos became the rage of the Austin food scene, there was queso, the bowl of jazzed-up melted cheese, often accompanied with salsa and served on the bed of a crisp tortilla chip. To ensure that this timeless dish is not forgotten, each summer for the past four years the Austin club the Mohawk has hosted Quesoff, in which teams, comprised of both restaurant and home chefs, vie for supremacy in four categories: Meaty, Spicy, Veggie, and the ever-popular Wild Card (last year ice cream queso made an appearance). “I was skeptical of Quesoff’s appeal when I was a judge a few years ago,” said Matthew Odam, restaurant critic for the Austin American-Statesman. “Would people really show up in the July afternoon heat to eat queso? Boy, were my concerns misguided.” The line for this free event starts snaking down Red River more than an hour ahead of showtime, and for this Saturday’s fifth annual Quesoff there are already more than seven thousand Facebook RSVPs for a venue with a one-thousand-person capacity. Odam, who puts a premium on creaminess, tang, and heat, will return to decide the fate of more than thirty teams along with four other judges, including Zach Davis, of Henri’s Cheese & Wine, and Casie Wiginton, of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop. In addition to appointing the queso winners, they will choose the crown for a new, fifth category: guacamole. Samples are available to the public while supplies last, but first you’ll need to buy a $5 bag of chips. No BYOC.
The Mohawk, July 11, 2 p.m., mohawkaustin.com


Size Matters
Tiny towns in Texas can be chock full of cultural cachet. Consider Archer City, Luckenbach, and Marfa, for example. In the exhibit “Photo Journeys: 32 Years Through Small Texas Towns,” on display for one more week in Beeville (population 13,000), rural locales like these are celebrated as the state’s main attractions. John Mattson and Karen Zimmerly, a husband-and-wife photography team, embarked on the project in 1982 as a way to learn more about their newly adopted state. Based in San Angelo at the time, they would go on car trips for cheap thrills and explore the roads not frequently taken. The resulting 65 images are portals to stories largely unfamiliar to the new generation of cosmopolitan Texans and breathe life into salt-of-the-earth communities that are seemingly on life support. “These are places where people rely on the land for sustenance,” Zimmerly said in her artist statement. “From the land crops are grown, livestock is raised, oil and gas extracted. Just as easily crops can fail, recessions occur, towns decline, and people leave. Life is tied to the rhythms of nature, the marketplace, the economy.”
Beeville Art Museum, July 10-17, bamtexas.org


Give Peach a Chance
Friday, the day before the thirty-first annual Parker County Peach Festival, is the last day of 5 Days of Peaches, the pre-festival lead-up to the real festival. Enthusiasts can get a head start on the estimated 40,000 expected the following day with a free peach green tea or peach green tea lemonade at the Starbucks on Main Street (from one to two that afternoon) before joining the masses in experiencing peaches in all of their many permutations at the fest, including peach cobbler, peach pie, peach ice cream, peach smoothies, peach jelly, and peach salsa. The history of peaches in Parker County traces back to 1938, when J.K. Johnson Sr. planted peach trees six miles west of Weatherford. Over the decades he worked in tandem with his son, J.K. Johnson Jr., to invent new pruning techniques and harvesting boxes that reduced bruising. This helped inspire the Legislature to declare the area the Peach Capital of Texas.
Downtown, July 11, 8 a.m., parkercountypeachfestival.org


Pump It Up
Add this to the everything-is-bigger-in-Texas record books: one of the most colossal frames in professional bodybuilding belongs to Branch Warren, the Tyler native and two-time winner of the Arnold Classic. On Saturday, he’ll host his own bodybuilding competition, the Branch Warren Classic, where spectators will have a chance to see strength personified and perhaps meet Warren and have him autograph something using one of his two nicknames: the Stump or Quadrasaurus.
NRG Center, July 11, 8 a.m., thebranchwarren.com


Breaking the Law
On Saturday, the Austin band Crooks will play a CD release party for its new album, Wildfire, a fusion of rock, blues, country, mariachi, and conjunto that brings to mind Hank Williams fronting the Texas Tornadoes on a song for a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Scoot Inn, July 11, 9 p.m., crookscountry.com