Things never seem to work out the way they're planned. Roy DeCarava was studying painting and printmaking at the Harlem Art Center in New York in the 1940s when he began documenting his own art with a small camera. But after DeCarava turned his lens on his native Harlem, the young artist soon left behind his paints and easel to pursue a career in photography.
Within six years, DeCarava became the first African-American to win a Guggenheim Fellowship for photography. The Encyclopedia of Photography says his pictures are characterized by "tenderness and an acute sense of harsh political realities." DeCarava comes to the Blue Room (1616 East 18th Street) Saturday at 6:30 p.m. to talk about jazz and his book The Sound I Saw. Joining DeCarava will be Jay McShann and, acting as a mediator for the jazz-related conversation, Kevin Willmott, director of the buzz-generating faux documentary CSA: The Confederate States of America. For more information, call 816-474-8463.--Michael Vennard
Last year, NBC executives told Hardball host Chris Matthews to take it down a notch. Matthews acquiesced, and his ratings improved. That's too bad, because Sunday-morning Matthews equals neutered wonk. No one really wants to hear what conservative dork Tucker Carlson has to say, nor does anyone want to listen to liberal toady Joe Klein blather on. They want to hear Matthews interrupt, shout down and verbally bludgeon his guests. They want to see Matthews so excited that his bottom lip gets all wet, because people who talk with wetlip are so frighteningly unaware of themselves that it's actually endearing, if also a bit gross. Matthews will probably remain tame during his Wild About Harry fund-raising appearance for the Truman Presidential Museum and Library (500 West U.S. Highway 24 in Independence), but for $150 a ticket, attendees ought to be able to see a little spit. For details, call 816-268-8244. -- Casey Logan
When Darrell Mease gunned down meth kingpin Lloyd Lawrence, Lawrence's wife and the couple's paraplegic grandson, it didn't take a jury long to sentence him to death. But then Pope John Paul II visited St. Louis on the day Mease was scheduled to die and asked then-Governor Mel Carnahan to commute Mease's sentence. Carnahan obliged, raising many questions about the interplay of religion and society. Michael Cuneo wrote about the case in Almost Midnight: An American Story of Murder and Redemption, which he discusses at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rockhurst University's Mabee Theater, located in Sedgwick Hall (1100 Rockhurst Road). To register, call 816-501-4828. -- Annie Fischer