Bush bashers refer to the powerful triumvirate of George W., Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney as the real "Axis of Evil." In her best-selling book, Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species, Laura Flanders regards the women in and around the White House as an equally diabolical force. Combining biography, exhaustive research and political analysis, Flanders skewers high-ranking female Bush allies, including Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton as betrayers of their gender, opportunists and phonies. Worst of all, Flanders cautions, they're less likely than their male counterparts to be scrutinized by the media -- who tend to focus on a woman's hair and clothing over her policy. To liberals, that's a fact that makes them all the more dangerous. "There's a frustration among a lot of people when they look at the Bush Administration and the mind games that they play with the media and the public," Flanders says. "They're snowing us with this multi-cultural facade where people of color and women are in the administration. It's meant to create the appearance that they're somehow kinder and gentler to these groups. Which isn't true, of course."
Flanders hosts The Flanders Show on Air America Radio, the lefty radio network, and she wrote the book Real Majority, Minority Media: The High Cost of Sidelining Women in Reporting. Thanks to the success of Bushwomen, she's also become a sought-after speaker on the feminist-studies circuit. This week, she makes a number of stops in Boulder and Denver, including a reading at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Old Main Chapel today at 4 p.m., followed by a lecture at the Word Is Out Women's Bookstore, 2015 10th Street in Boulder, at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, May 3, Flanders lectures at Denver University's Garden Room from noon to 1 p.m.; that's followed by a reception at the Denver Woman's Press Club, 1324 Logan Street, at 5:30, and an appearance at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, at 7:30 p.m. -- Laura Bond
Natural Wonder FRI, 4/29
Denver photographer Tory Read doesn't just record community life; she lives it, moving among the people she photographs with a camera in one hand and the other outstretched in participation. Around these parts, she's led multi-generational, community-based art and photo-story programs in Highland and Curtis Park; while abroad, she's documented social- and economic-development projects in Indonesia and the South Sea islands for the United Nations, Greenpeace International and other non-profit organizations.
The artist's personal investment in communal life will be exposed anew when she opens her studio tonight with Why Leave Paradise?, an exhibit of colorful panoramic collages that explore the interaction between native Samoans and Western religious and capitalistic values. The digital scenes unfold at a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. at 1955 West 35th Avenue. For more information, call 303-433-7500 or visit www.toryread.com. -- Susan Froyd
Polly Wants Her Freedom THURS, 4/28
Before the practice was restricted in 1993, the importation of parrots caught in the wild was rampant. They were brought in by the millions, particularly the inexpensive cherry-headed conures from Ecuador and Peru. But the birds made for difficult pets, and many were released or escaped on their own. A company of 26 settled on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill, where the bright-green birds caught the attention of homeless street musician Mark Bittner. Bittner began feeding the birds, and before long, they were eating out of his hand. Thus began an extraordinary relationship, which is documented in Bittner's book, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, and a documentary of the same name that was released earlier this year. Bittner will present a slide show and sign his book this evening at First Universalist Church, 4101 East Hampden Avenue, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $10 and benefits the Gabriel Foundation and Colorado Avian Resource Inc. For more information, call 303-629-5900. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Gimme the Mike FRI, 4/29
The weekend before the start of the papal conclave, radio funnyman Michael Feldman was spritzing about the list of possible successors.
Find out tonight, when Feldman and a cast of quizzical cutups invade Macky Auditorium, on the University of Colorado's Boulder campus, starting at 6:30 p.m. under the umbrella of Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know show. The host, known for his rapid-fire repartee and his Madison, Wisconsin-bred wackiness, is bound to tackle all of Colorado's looniness, as well as anything else that ricochets across his brainpan. While the topics have changed since he began as the self-billed "fastest Mike in the Midwest" in 1985, Feldman's approach hasn't. And that's why, when asked what he does know, he still replies: Not much. This much we know: Tickets are $25 to $35. Call 1-800-325-7328 or log on to www.ticketswest.com. -- Ernie Tucker