- - Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sports Monster Jam

In 1981, St. Louis auto-parts salesman Bob Chandler drove a modified Ford F-250 pickup truck over two junkyard cars in an empty field. He didn’t have much of an audience, and he certainly didn’t imagine he was founding a sport. But a tape titled “car crush” featuring Mr. Chandler driving “Bigfoot” over two white and red sedans was like putting a match to kindling. Soon, he was performing in front of stadium audiences, who paid good money not to see a small vehicle go fast, but a massive vehicle go slow. Thirty years later, “monster trucks” - as one observer called Bigfoot - are as deeply embedded in American pop culture as NASCAR and have inspired parodies and product lines. The trucks are a little different from what they were when Mr. Chandler started; they aren’t technically trucks anymore, but giant dune buggies harnessed to alcohol-fueled engines pushing out more than 1,000 horsepower. The theatrics behind monster truck events are second only to those of professional wrestling - a comparison the drivers hate, but that fits nonetheless. First-time rally attendees should make sure to bring earplugs. Friday through Sunday at the Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW. Phone: 202/628-3200. Web: https://verizoncenter.com

Exhibit: ‘She Got Game’

In 1972, Congress passed Title IX, which states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” In short, this means that federal funding should not discriminate between male and female athletics programs. Putting aside the law’s merits (plenty of folks think it has none), the world of women’s athletics goes far beyond sports covered by Title IX, as evidenced by the exhibit “She Got Game.” Artist Cory Oberndorfer paints scenes from roller derby, a female-dominated sport you won’t find on any college campus. For her book “She’s Got a Gun,” Atlanta-based photographer and firearm enthusiast Nancy Floyd snapped photos of gun-wielding women from all walks of life. The real stunner at this exhibit, however, is Martin Schoeller’s series of 8-by-6-foot photos of female bodybuilders; they’re sure to make your jaw drop and challenge your perceptions of female strength. Through March 18 at Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Phone: 703/248-6800. Web: www.arlingtonartscenter.org

Exhibit: ApocalypTOON 2012

The Mayan calendar will end in December and, according to some, so will the world. Never mind that the ancient Maya who created the calendar are dead and thus can’t make another one (think ancient Y2K). The calendar is one aspect of a much larger indigenous mythology that average Americans do not understand. Ancient predictions have a way of penetrating the collective consciousness, giving an undeserved urgency to reports about flocks of birds and schools of dolphins dying en masse. To combat the growing sense of anxiety, Artisphere is providing an opportunity for high-minded skeptics to laugh away the end of the world. ApocalypTOON will feature the works of cartoonists from the Economist, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and La Monde. Laughs are not guaranteed, but you are likely to find yourself distracted from end-time concerns by new thoughts, such as why anyone gets paid to make editorial cartoons anymore, and whether there are any Gruyere cubes left at the snack table. Through Sunday at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Phone: 703/875-1100. Web: www.artisphere.com

Comedy: Basile

If you know him at all, you know Basile as either the voice of Bullwinkle J. Moose or the spitting image of Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, the CBS football commentator who was fired from the network in 1988 for saying blacks were better athletes because they were “bred” to be stronger in the Antebellum South. Basile portrayed Snyder in a recent biopic series for ESPN, garnering an Emmy nod. His real strong suit, however, is comedy. If you decide to catch him at the Riot Act Comedy Theater, make sure to brush up on your Greek history - Greek jokes are Basile’s stock and trade. Through Saturday at the Riot Act Comedy Theater, 801 E St. NW. Phone: 202/697-4900. Web: https://riotactcomedy.com

Concert: Jeff Mangum

Jeff Mangum all but disappeared after releasing the best rock album of the 1990s. He was so averse to the success of 1998’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” that he disbanded Neutral Milk Hotel and went into hiding. For roughly a decade, he was the rock world’s version of Harper Lee, having produced only one thing of value and then dropping off the face of the earth. Roughly two years ago, Mr. Mangum reappeared, like a species of butterfly thought to be extinct. Since then, he has been playing one-man concerts across the country. If you’re a fan (or even if you’re not), catch him now because there’s no telling when he’ll up and disappear, perhaps for good. Friday and Saturday at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Phone: 202/328-6000. Web: www.thelincolntheatre.org

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