"Having been the first American Buddhist monk to be ordained in a Buddhist country," confesses Alan Clements, "I think I've logged more damn hours on my ass than anyone I've ever met."
According to Clements, the time for meditation is over. Tonight at 7 p.m. at the Boulder Theater, the famed author will stage Spiritually Incorrect, an improvised one-man show that draws from his beliefs and life, including his experiences as a monk and activist in Burma. In fact, his current tour will benefit Burma Project USA, a human-rights organization affiliated with jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
As serious as his subject matter is, Clements employs warmth, humanity and no small amount of self-deprecating humor to make his point. "In my little way, I talk about how I have been duped by propaganda and Madison Avenue," he explains. "My show is a deconstruction of contemporary ways that the mind control of religion and politics have grabbed us."
Using his latest book, Instinct for Freedom, more as a springboard than a script, Clements satirically skewers everything from dogmatism to Dubya. But he's no run-of-the-mill Bush-basher. "George Bush is an easy target," he says, "but that's a very disempowered attitude. Why wait for him or the regime to change? On the fourth anniversary of September 11, we've had enough time to re-establish our sanity and overcome our apathy and cynicism. It's time for a lot of smart and good people to rise up in their conscience and enact their own Rosa Parks."
The Boulder Theater is at 2034 14th Street; admission ranges from $20 to $27.50. Call 303-786-7030 or visit www.bouldertheater.com for info. -- Jason Heller
Through a Glass, Darkly
The Tender Bar is frothy with success.
A year ago, you could sometimes find J. R. Moehringer, former Rocky Mountain News reporter turned Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writer for the Los Angeles Times, sitting outside Common Grounds in LoDo, contemplating both a cup of coffee and the manuscript in his hands. It was a draft of the book he'd been thinking about for years, a work of non-fiction like his award-winning feature -- but this one was based on his own life. Much of it had been spent at Publicans, the saloon in Manhasset, New York, where Moehringer's uncle tended bar -- and the bar's regulars tended to young, fatherless, always curious J.R. "Kid's a scribbler," one said.
And how: The Tender Bar, released this month, is the talk of the publishing world, earning rave reviews, plugs in Vanity Fair (complete with glamour pic of the author), a spot on Today and a feature story in the September 1 New York Times. Moehringer's in the midst of a major book tour, but the prodigal, prodigious son returns to Denver for a free appearance at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Tattered Cover Cherry Creek, 2955 East First Avenue. For details, call 303-322-7727. -- Patricia Calhoun
Get Your Crush On
Miraculously, someone out there has positive memories of the hormone-drenched horror-fests known as junior-high dances. The Denver chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails is throwing a middle-school-themed LUPEC Crush Party tonight at the hi-dive, 7 South Broadway. A benefit for Planned Parenthood, the bash will feature local DJs Yer Momm, Wigdan Giddy and the Postman spinning everything from retro to electro. For a donation, the LUPEC cupids will pass notes to your secret crushes across the room -- and potent drink specials mean you won't even have to spike the punch. The sock hop kicks off at 9 p.m., and admission is $5. Visit www.lupec.org for details. -- Jason Heller
Odam Fei Mud uses its oozy.
It's a proven fact: There just aren't enough samurais and fake gore in rock and roll. But Odam Fei Mud is here to rectify that. The sprawling, sticky performance troupe is headed by local artist Dan Crosier, whose childhood in the small plains town of Kersey, Colorado, must have resembled some of the creepier scenes from Gummo; he credits his experiences around farms and rural slaughterhouses with inspiring an affection for viscera and the absurd. Both will be amply displayed when Odam take the stage tonight at dusk at Studio Aiello, 3563 Walnut Street.
Inspired by Gwar and Akira Kurosawa, Crosier blends elaborate costumes, prosthetics, choreographed sword battles, live heavy metal and tons of fake blood into a massive mess of weirdness. Also performing will be Denver's musically and socially progressive Orwellian Math Project; Sever, a blistering hardcore band from Albuquerque; and the Motoman Project, whose spectacle of lumbering robots and pyrotechnics nicely complement Odam's more organic insanity. Admission is $10; visit www.thothengine.com for more information. -- Jason Heller