Ballet Arizona traditionally opens its season with crowd-pleasing paeans to lawn-chair culture called "Ballet Under the Stars" -- a community outreach project that continues this year with three free performances. The first takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 16, at Tempe's Kiwanis Park, 6111 South All-America Way, with a program that includes excerpts from Sinatra Suite (choreographed by Twyla Tharp), Ave Maria (choreographed by Dwight Rhoden), and 2B (choreographed by Ballet Arizona's Artistic Director, Ib Anderson). Additional "Ballet Under the Stars" performances are scheduled Thursday, September 22, at Steele Indian School Park, and Friday, September 23, at Glendale's Sahuaro Ranch Park. Call 602-381-0184 or visit www.balletaz.org.
Bruce Nauman is the most famous filmmaker you've never heard of -- the Spielberg of conceptual video. The Indiana-born artist began his career in the 1960s as a multimedia Renaissance man working in the realms of sculpture, drawing, photography, and performance. In the '80s, he switched gears, pioneering and plumbing the possibilities of museum-worthy video art. Five of Nauman's resulting works, ranging in vintage from 1985 to 2001, are showcased in "Pay Attention: Bruce Nauman" -- an exhibit opening Saturday, September 17, at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street. The installation features Nauman's Good Boy Bad Boy; Violent Incident (Man/Women Segment); Setting a Good Corner (Allegory and Metaphor); Office Edit 1 [Mapping the Studio (Fat Chance John Cage)]; and Clown Torture. Clown torture? Count us in. The exhibit continues through January 8, 2006. Admission is $7, $5 for SMoCA members and children under 15, and free to all on Thursdays. Call 480-994-ARTS or visit www.smoca.org.
We've all heard those tales about grand ideas and successful businesses that began life as scrawls on paper napkins, but here's a new one: The idea for Ground Zero was hatched 10 years ago in the parking lot of a Tempe Taco Bell. Since then, the Valley-based club for custom-car enthusiasts has grown into a regional force to be reckoned with -- and a big-hearted one, to boot. The club celebrates its 10th anniversary with the Ground Zero "Decade of Madness" Benefit Car Show from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, September 18, at F1 Race Factory, 317 South 48th Street. Awards will be handed out in categories including Best of Show Car, Best of Show Truck, Lowest Car, Lowest Truck, Best Paint, Best Interior, and Best Chrome. The entry fee is $20 per vehicle, with all proceeds going to the Real Gift Foundation of the Thomas J. Pappas School for Homeless Children. Spectators are admitted free. Call 602-302-7223 or visit www.GroundZeroAZ.com.
Who can forget John Belushi smashing the guitar of that folkie crooning "I Gave My Love a Cherry" in Animal House? Modern-day tofu-eaters should similarly steer clear of the Tupelo Tap Room on Monday, September 19, when anyone wearing Tevas will be hacked into human sausage as part of the Meat Department's Anti-Folk Night. Okay, not really. Meat men Carl (a.k.a. "Angus Beef") and Chuck ("Roast") are a couple of Valley guys who play acoustic music themselves, but with a punkish tinge (not unlike the "Two Johns" of They Might Be Giants -- at least conceptually). The Meat Department started out as an open-mic cover band specializing in "obscure Ween songs," but has morphed into a songwriting duo that creates clever, off-kilter originals such as "Chewbacca" (sample lyric: "Chewbacc-ah-ah-ah, you deserve a cookie/Chewbacc-ah-ah-ah, you decorated Wookiee") and "Eye Herpes" ("What's that on your eye/It's bigger than a sty/And you can't deny/That it has grown in size/And I must insist/That it's bigger than a cyst"). The Tap Room is a story in itself, according to Chuck Roast: Located at 1615 West Camelback Road, it's where "hippies, punks, spoon-playing midgets, and lederhosen-wearing fat men on tricycles meet." There's no cover. Call 602-274-1513 or visit www.tupelotaproom.com.
You can shake the tiny hand of Ruth Westheimer on Tuesday, September 20, when the pint-size psychosexual therapist and popular syndicated radio personality appears at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, 10600 East Crescent Moon Drive. Dr. Ruth and Yale University gynecologist Dr. Mary Jane Minkin will lead a free seminar titled "S.A.V.E. Sex," which addresses "the growing need for living and loving well at any age." All attendees receive complimentary hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, as well as gratis copies of Westheimer's and Minkin's new books. The event is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Registration is required, and space is limited. Visit www.savesex.org/events.html.