Writers who cop other people's work star in the Postmodern Piracy Reading, where regurgitating someone else's material is high art (similar to a punk band covering "Singing in the Rain"). Borrowing from Shakespeare, medical textbooks, and all points between, tonight's samplers include language poet Charles Bernstein, from the boring "let's make a poem about an apple look like an apple" school of verse, and the more substantive novelist Ray Federman. A Holocaust survivor (his siblings were on Schindler's list, but perished anyway), Federman won an American Book Award for Smiles in Washington Square. That book covers the theoretical love affair of two strangers who exchange smiles in the park, spinning toward a great kiss that never occurs. The reading starts at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, 228 Gougler Avenue. Admission is free. For more information, call 330-677-8166.
The bad part about D Generation's new CD, Through the Darkness: The punk-influenced anthems feel generic--with insert-name-of-common-enemy-here lyrics like "Teachers gave us bad religion, stomachaches, and scars." The good part: Singer Jesse Marlin's snarling voice could burn a shower curtain in a downpour, and ragged exuberance prevails over orchestrated rebellion. Hope stings eternal when they play at 9 p.m. at Peabody's DownUnder, 1059 Old River Road. Tickets are $10; call 216-241-5555.
Grab that bottle of peroxide: Dick Dale, the King of Surf Guitar, will ride the low tide into town tonight. Dale blew out a lot of speakers in his day, playing that twangy right-handed guitar upside down and left-handed (he also had Frankie and Annette jiggling out of their swimsuits in the flicks Beach Party and Muscle Beach Party). His latest recording, a 1997 boxed set with tough-to-tell-apart tunes like "Miserlou" and "Trippin'," may not be essential listening, but it makes good summer reading. He'll hang a louie into Peabody's Down-Under, 1059 Old River Road., at 9 p.m. Tickets are $17; call 216-241-5555.
Cuban music has been stuck on the Ricky Ricardo tape loop around these parts since the 1960s, when the U.S. embargo not only put a crimp in the cigar market but also clipped the careers of dancehall musicians who could play more than the cursory cha-cha. Reviving indigenous rhythms with a modern flavor is ACubanismo!, an all-star ensemble that avoids border hassles because of its international stature, its festival gigs considered a cultural exchange. Fronted by trumpet virtuoso Jess Alemany, the band is fluent in rumba, mambo, and son (a roots style of salsa), as well as lesser-known Cuban beats like danzons, pa'ca, and charanga. But you don't need a doctorate in musicology to get down to these guys--just a pair of hips. The wiggling commences at 7:30 p.m. at Tri-C Metro Auditorium, East 30th Street and Woodland Avenue. Tickets are $20; call 216-987-4400. A salsa party with music by Cleveland's Latin All-Stars follows in the Sheraton City Center's Dolder Grand Ballroom, 777 St. Clair Avenue. Admission to the party is $6; $4 with a ticket stub from the concert.
From the who's-kidding-whom desk: the festivities at Celebrate the Earth include a "litter-pickup contest." What's next--"kick the can into the clearly marked recycling bin?" The environmental carnival also includes some things you can't fit in a Hefty bag: face-painting, live music, juggling performances and workshops, and a visit from Jungle Terry and his exotic-animal menagerie. Rain or shine, the show goes on from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, 2600 South Park Boulevard in Shaker Heights; call 216-321-5935 for more information.
Rain is always falling, the end of the world looms, and the only window to the outside world is a hole in the floor in The Hole, Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang's strange and wonderful film about modern man's social ineptitude. A week before the new millennium, an unnamed city has been chewed up and spit out by a deadly plague that compels its victims to act like cockroaches. Only four denizens remain: a shopkeeper/tenant of a run-down apartment, the toilet-paper-hoarding woman who lives below him, a shopper in search of a brand of sauce that hasn't been manufactured in years, and a plumber who arrives to fix a water leak, leaves the hole, then disappears. Communication is limited to the shopkeeper sticking his foot or head through the hole, to the extreme annoyance of the toilet-paper-hoarder. Song-and-dance numbers from Taiwanese musicals of the '50s and '60s, shot MTV-style, liven things up. The Hole got a lukewarm reception at last year's Cannes Film Festival, only to be ceaselessly praised by a small but powerful contingent of existential, show-tune-lovin' film buffs. It screens at 8:35 p.m. at the Cleveland Cinematheque, 11141 East Boulevard. Admission is $6; call 216-421-7450.
Everybody's bonkers, in case you hadn't heard. But in a good way, so the straight and narrow might stay properly askew. The master of good manners pours tea in his top hat, while the queen plays croquet with hedgehog balls and pink-flamingo mallets. It's just another topsy-turvy afternoon in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, where the shortest distance between two points is a question mark. You won't meet up with Tweedledee and Tweedledum, however, when the Children's Play House performs an adaptation that sticks to Lewis Carroll's original text (the twins didn't show up until the second book, Through the Looking Glass). Performances are 1 and 3 p.m. today and Saturdays and Sundays through May 9. Tickets are $11; call 216-795-7000. In the Studio One Theater of the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Avenue.
Canvas becomes flesh, and paint becomes blood and bile, in the work of Cleveland painter Douglas Max Utter, whose violent, bruise-colored depictions of the human form turn the body inside out, bringing the darkness of its inner workings into the harsh daylight. A ten-year survey of Utter's work is on exhibit in A Journey From Skin to Skin at the Fruit Avenue Gallery, 919 Fruit Avenue in Tremont. The gallery is open today from 7-9 p.m.; call 216-969-6805. Admission is free.
From the sidewalks of Philadelphia to the Elks Lodges of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, hip-hop dancer Rennie Harris brings urban moves to the masses with Puremovement, a troupe that shakes a leg and dislocates an arm to funk and rap music. Harris first took his pops and spins to a wide audience in the early '80s, opening for Run D.M.C., L.L. Cool J., and Kurtis Blow. Since then, he's become legit with the arts crowd, performing with his company at the Kennedy Center and dance festivals in Chicago, Holland, and Italy. Puremovement brings its lock, break, and house to the Palace Theatre in Playhouse Square today for an abbreviated free performance at noon and a full, ticketed show ($10, $17, and $25; call 216-241-6000) at 8 p.m. For those not up on their capeoria (a four-hundred-year-old martial arts dance that Caribbean slaves used to break their chains), the troupe presents a free talk on the influence of hip-hop at 11 a.m.
Hippie love shaking doesn't quite hack it for Ray's Music Exchange, an electric, horn-heavy jam band straight outta Cincinnati. Rather than take their cue from the Dead, they limit their tracks to four or five minutes each, even when they noodle around. And when those cosmic tumblers click into place, it's like an inconjugal union between Golden Earring and a roller rink organist. Ray's Music Exchange performs at 9 p.m. with opener Mojo Honey at Wilbert's Bar and Grille, 1360 West 9th Street. Admission is $5; call 216-241-5555.