Friday, January 14
Charlotte Symphony director Christof Perick was originally scheduled to conduct this weekend's Kansas City Symphony concerts. But lucky for us, KC's charismatic and still-pretty-new music director-designate Michael Stern has taken the reins for the program, titled "Number One and Only." (The New York native, who counted Leonard Bernstein as a close family friend, doesn't become the official music director until the 2005-06 season.) Tonight's selections include Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2, Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 and Rossini's "Semiramide Overture" (which has a happy opening and a tragic end -- our favorite kind!). The program begins at 8 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre (1029 Central). Call 816-471-0400 for tickets.
Saturday, January 15
We're not sure when we switched from air guitar to air drums. It was either when rock's screaming-Strat-solo break went out of style in the early '90s or when our doctor gave us those groovy yellow pills. Either way, it may be time to set aside our invisible axes and learn to play the real thing(s). So at 2 p.m. today, we'll head to the Cool Stuff 2 music store grand opening at 6535 State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, where KC rock vets are giving clinics and taking new students. Rick Morrow, who did the Wango Tango with Ted Nugent in his day, is looking for aspiring drummers, and J.C. Carter, whose bottom-feeding bass has shaken up albums by Tupac Shakur and Shaquille O'Neal, is on the hunt for fresh meat. And in the six-string corner is Matt Bennett, about whom we know little except that he says he's a "wicked guitar player." Oh, yeah? Wait'll he hears our "Stairway." Call 913-334-0118 for more information.
Sunday, January 16
Now that more than two months have passed since the presidential election, we feel like we have enough distance to talk about it without getting choked up. So we're going to check out today's 1 p.m. lecture by Charles Reitz at Hogan College Preparatory Academy (1221 East Meyer Boulevard). Reitz, a professor of philosophy at Kansas City, Kansas, Community College, applies Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason to analyze those "values voters" who helped decide the outcome November 2. Maybe we'll find that their categorical imperatives aren't really so different from our own. Call 816-561-1866 for more information.
Monday, January 17
On December 26, 1908, Jack Johnson became the first world heavyweight boxing champion by knocking out Canada's Tommy Burns in the 14th round. Now, 96 years later, another famous Burns has made a documentary about the legendary fighter. Part 1 of Ken Burns' Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson airs tonight at 8 on KCPT Channel 19. Like Martin Luther King Jr., Johnson never pulled punches, and it got him -- and pretty much the rest of black America, which the media decided he represented -- into big trouble. Racial violence escalated whenever Johnson beat a white fighter, and it didn't help that Johnson twice married white women. In 1910, the press called for a "Great White Hope" to defeat Johnson. James Jeffries came out of retirement to answer the call and, of course, got his ass walloped. Johnson's story is a deservedly unflattering portrait of pre-civil-rights America, but it's also the perfect illustration of how, in the end, the mindless mainstream just can't keep a good man down.
Kansas City has its fair share of poetry jams: Soulistic at Red Vine Restaurant, Spoken Word at Kabal, and the Prospero's Pit, to name a few. But literary lovefests that celebrate the genre's more traditional form, in which poets read their works from a, like, published book, are scads more infrequent. We're in luck at 7 tonight, though, when the Writers Place sponsors Ann Slegman at the Johnson County Central Resource Library (9875 West 87th Street in Overland Park). Appearing with fellow writer Wayne Miller, Slegman reads from her latest collection, Conversation, which has been well-received by critics for its smart but unpretentious poems. Call 816-753-1090 for more information.
Wednesday, January 19
The coupon is the badge of thriftiness, and anyone who grew up in a family that went out to eat when -- and only when -- someone possessed a buy-one-get-one-free voucher rarely looks favorably upon that dread emblem of frugality. We'll be out spending $20 on a 10-cent steak tonight, but anyone who comes close to orgasm watching his or her beloved Sunday paper clippings shave nickels off the total at the check-out lane is welcome to join the Kansas City coupons meetup group. Kosher couponers will register for the group at http://coupons.meetup.com, but for those too cheap to pay for Internet access, the meeting is tonight at 7 at the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at 4242 South Noland Road in Independence. And we're sure that whoever finds the best deal on four dozen glazed doughnuts takes home the Sexiest Couponer Award -- and with it, the promise of hot bargain-hunter sex.