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by Tim Sampson

thursday, july 1

You know, people, it is 1999. We are just a few months away from the year 2000. We've had all this time to learn and get along and be civilized. We've been through war, genocide, natural disasters, serial killers, Three's Company, deterioration of the environment, Debbie Gibson, disease, the Industrial Revolution, traveling in space, living in caves, CATS, anarchy, terrorism, famine, Demi Moore, and, well, you name it. We've been through all that, and still, there are those out there who cannot, will not stop ragging on homosexuals. Take the church. I just read an article accompanied by the headline "Church decides what to do with 68 ministers at 'lesbian wedding.'" Easy answer: Have them hurry up and serve the food, lest riot ensue. Counsel the guests, telling them not to bring a U-Haul on the third date. Just kidding, of course. The article was about the 68 Methodist ministers who recently attended a "marriage" between two women in Sacramento, and now the higher-ups in the church are hotter than Jerry Falwell at a Lilith Fair concert about the whole thing. You'd think with all the children out there starving to death and teenagers shooting up schools, they would have bigger things to worry about. But no. They are worried about this travesty splitting the church, just like it split in the early 1800s over the issue of slavery. Now, think about that one for a moment. And speaking of that nasty topic, yet another group is up in arms because a Springfield, Illinois, newspaper, the State Journal Register, ran an article quoting someone as saying that Springfield's most famous son, Abraham Lincoln, might have been gay -- giving a whole new meaning to "master and slave." Yes, gay playwright Larry Kramer claims to have read the diary of Lincoln's most intimate friend, Joshua Speed, who reportedly included remarks about his bedmate, Honest Abe. Yes, it seems that during that era, it was not odd for men to share a bed because mattresses were so expensive. What? Here's a guy who read by candlelight and walked something like 80 miles in the snow everywhere he went, but instead of sleeping on a blanket on the floor he chose to sleep in bed with another man for four years? Would anyone out there like to buy a bridge? And while no hard evidence has emerged about Speed actually playing with Abe's Lincoln log, Kramer claims Speed's diary does say Lincoln used to kiss him in bed "to shut me up," and includes the comment, "Yes, our Abe is like a schoolgirl." Do tell. Poor Abe. The guy gets slavery abolished, does a lot of other good things as president, gets friggin' assassinated, and now his own hometown is all in a tailspin because he might have fooled around with another guy. I say, big deal. At least he didn't allow his wife to care for him for two years after a bad accident and then build a house for his girlfriend and announce to his wife he wanted a divorce so he could marry his chick on the side, like some two-faced, hypocritical Republican politician I can think of. A girlfriend, I might add, who was overheard talking most of the way through the first act of a musical at The Orpheum recently. So judge ye not, and get on with things. Like the point of all this bologna: what's going on around town this week. Tonight, if you feel like driving down to Tunica, you can get a head start on celebrating July the 4th with Pyro '99, a huge fireworks display at Casino Strip Resorts, or go hear Dwight Yoakam at the Horseshoe Casino. Here in town, there's plenty of live music. Check out: 90 Pound Wuss and Willie 10 Speed at Barristers; the Sea Scouts at the Map Room; Wipe the Monkey, Clanky's Nub, and Filthy Diablo at the South End Saloon; the Electric Mood Elevators at the Sunset Serenade party on The Peabody's Plantation Rooftop; and last but certainly not least, those crazy Dempseys at Elvis Presley's Memphis (I know, I'm obsessed).

friday, july 2

There are two plays opening tonight: Tom Stoppard's comedy Arcadia opens at Circuit Playhouse; and at Theatreworks, it's opening night of Dreamworkshop, a combination of dance, theatre, text, and sound that attempts to recreate the experience of dreaming. Later tonight at Theatreworks, it's the first-Friday-of-each-month Freak Engine, a midnight show of performance art, improv, music, comedy, dance, and whatever else they have up their sleeves. And there's yet more live music tonight. Country star Tracy Byrd is at Sam's Town; the Budweiser Superfest at the Mid-South Coliseum features the O'Jays, Gerald Levert, Frankie Beverly & Maze, and others; the New Memphis Hepcats bring their brand of swing to Automatic Slim's Tonga Club; and Hoehn & Duren are at the Hi-Tone Café.

saturday, july 3

If you want to start celebrating the Fourth of July early, there are a few early shindigs. There's one in Cordova and one in Collierville, but the biggest one is the WMC Stations Star-Spangled Celebration out at Shelby Farms (he snarls, wondering why they've abandoned downtown and the river). The music and family activities begin at 4 p.m., and the fireworks are at 9:30. Music includes performances by the River Bluff Clan, Dr. Zarr's Amazing Funkmonster, Viva Satellites, Blessid Union of Souls, and, yes, the Dempseys (he stops snarling). You can bring lawn chairs, coolers, and leashed pets, but no fireworks, weapons (that's nice), or alcohol (he snarls once more).

sunday, july 4

And here it is, July the 4th, Independence Day. If you're looking for a party, there are several. There are parades and festivals in Central Gardens, Germantown, and Southaven, but the biggest bashes are these: 4th of July Pops with the Plants at Memphis Botanic Garden features the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, with James Hyter singing his famous rendition of "Ol' Man River," along with games and food; and the Mud Island Fourth of July Celebration features concessions, family stuff, fireworks over the river, and live music in the amphitheatre by the Carl Wolfe Jazz Quartet, Becc Lester and Hank Sable, the Zack Myers Band, Elmo & the Shades, and Sandy Carroll. Fourth of July at The Peabody is a party up on the Plantation Rooftop, where you can watch the Mud Island fireworks and hear music by Woody Degan and Southern Lights. And 4th on Beale features a parade at 3 p.m., followed by outdoor live music by O'Landa Draper's Associates, the Boogie Blues Band, Kevin Paige, and the Average White Band. (No matter what you do this Fourth, if you're having a picnic, go by and check out the new Cheffie's in Sanderlin Centre.) If you're not into fireworks and such, you could always go down to Sam's Town tonight for comedy by Chris Rock, or go hear Carol Plunk at In the Grove.

monday, july 5

Zinnie's, Side Street Grill, Molly's La Casita. You know the drill.

tuesday, july 6

Wine tasting at Cooper Street Bar & Grill.

wednesday, july 7

Brooks Film Series' feature tonight is Chinatown. And guess what? The Dempseys are playing at Elvis Presley's Memphis. I just love being obnoxious, and for this reason: As always, I really don't care what you do this week, because I don't even know you, and unless you can alert me as to a gerbil-joke Web site on the Internet, I'm sure I don't ever want to meet you. Besides, it's time for me to blow this maggot ranch and find out if President Lincoln and his bedmate ever did amphetamines, in which case someone should write a book titled Abe on Speed.

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