"Steve Gompf: Distant Visions": Valley multimedia artist Gompf has created a pseudohistory of television and a few of its faux pioneers in this compelling exhibit. The installation features sometimes disturbing, nickelodeon-style loops "broadcast" on a variety of lovingly handcrafted but oddly threatening machines. "Distant Visions" continues through Saturday, September 28, at Lisa Sette Gallery, 4142 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays (and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays), noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment. Admission is free. Call 990-7342.
Unlikely Trio: Mike Fenlason of Mesa's Unlikely Theater, 2950 South Alma School, Suite 6, penned the three plays in this set: Vanitas Scene ("a love story for the millennium"), My Own Country ("a tale of occupation, collaboration and survival in postwar France") and Athene ("a comedy about one woman's tenuous grasp of her sanity and society's firm grasp of her"). The plays are performed this week at the Mesa theatre as previews of their planned August production by the Unlikely troupe at New York City's Raw Space. Vanitas and Country are scheduled on Thursday, July 25; and Sunday, July 28. Athene is slated for Friday, July 26; and Saturday, July 27. All shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7, $5 for students and seniors. For details call 777-2771.
National Independent Bookstore Week: If you're a fan of chain-threatened independent book coves like Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore and Those Were the Days, Phoenix's Book Gallery and Annie's Book Shop and Scottsdale's Bookmaster, now's a good time to show your appreciation. The Valley Independent Booksellers Association sponsors the local commemoration of this national celebration of literary "mom and pop" operations, which continues Thursday, July 25; Friday, July 26; and Saturday, July 27. For details, or the location of an indie bookseller near you, call 967-4729 or 756-2701.
Phoenix Firebirds: The Valley's Triple A affiliate of baseball's San Francisco Giants continues its Pacific Coast League season with home games against the Tucson Toros at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, July 25; and the same time Friday, July 26. The 'birds host the Calgary Cannons at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, July 27; 6:05 p.m. Sunday, July 28; 7:05 p.m. Monday, July 29; and 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, July 30. The scene is Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 East Osborn. For details call 275-0500.
"La Phoeniquera XVI": MARS Artspace, located at 126 South Central, in Luhrs Office Center, celebrates the art and artists of Arizona with its annual summer-season blowout. This year's exhibition, juried by Phoenix Art Museum's curator of 20th-century art, David Rubin, features works by Tina Sotis, Frank Ybarra, Nancy Scheer, Linda K. Foss-Asakawa, Brent Bond and many others. It continues through Friday, August 9. Viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free. Call 253-3541.
Paul Rodriguez: The Mexico-born, East L.A.-reared comedian is beloved in the Valley, so much so that he chose Phoenix as the site to premiere his 1994 film A Million to Juan, an extremely loose adaptation of Mark Twain's story "The Million Pound Bank Note." Rodriguez returns for a short stand at Tempe's Improvisation, Rural and University (at Cornerstone mall). Shows are scheduled at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, July 26; and the same times Saturday, July 27. Tickets are $20 and $25. For details call 921-9877.
Daniel Kemmis: The mayor of Missoula, Montana, is also the author of 1990's Community and the Politics of Place and 1995's The Good City and the Good Life: Renewing the Sense of Community. Named one of the 100 visionaries of the contemporary world by the Utne Reader, Kemmis speaks on "Government and Community Identity" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 26, at the Franciscan Renewal Center, 5802 East Lincoln Drive in Scottsdale, continuing Arizona Humanities Council's "Voices From Communities in Transition" series. A reception and a book signing follow the lecture. Admission is free. Call 257-0335.
Road Trip: Arizona Cowpuncher's Reunion Rodeo in Flagstaff: This 18th annual hoe-down for working cowpokes and their families is scheduled Friday, July 26; Saturday, July 27; and Sunday, July 28, at Fort Tuthill County Park, located three miles south of Flag at I-17 exit 337. Daily performances begin at 1 p.m. Rodeo dances are scheduled at 9 Friday and Saturday nights. For details call 1-520-632-7730 or 1-520-445-6915.
"Steve Gompf: Distant Visions": See Thursday.
"La Phoeniquera XVI": See Thursday.
National Independent Bookstore Week: See Thursday.
Phoenix Firebirds: See Thursday.
Unlikely Trio: See Thursday.
Lollapalooza '96: Headliner Metallica has raised a big stink via its new album, Load, an effort that, to put it delicately, is considered lame in some circles. And Soundgarden's latest, Down on the Upside, is no Superunknown. So there should be tons of cool controversy raging on the main stage, whose lineup includes the newly added and always fun Devo, the soon-to-pasture Ramones, Rancid, the Shaolin Kung Fu of China (see the story on page 106), Screaming Trees, and Psychotica. The second stage features Soul Coughing (see the album review on page 104), Sponge, the Melvins, Satchel, Jonny Polonsky, and Sweden's Fireside. Sharing the understage are the Cows, Long Fin Killie, Thirty Ought Six, Varnaline, and Crumb. The music starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Compton Terrace, I-10 and Queen Creek Road in Chandler. Tickets are $38, available at Dillard's; $1 from each one sold benefits Improve Our Communities. For more information, check out the festival's on-line site at http://www.lollapalooza.com or call 678-2222.