Amid Paul Theroux's dozens of books on travel and expatriates, you can find a different sort of book that's as hilarious as it is true. Sir Vidia's Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents, Theroux's 1998 memoir of his troubled friendship with fellow author V.S. Naipaul, details Naipaul's outrageous behavior (he refuses to sleep on his bed after a workman sits on it) and comments (he refers to most of humanity as "Inferiors" or "Infies"). Naipaul, tactless and bigoted though he may be, serves as mentor to the callow Theroux when they meet in Uganda in the '60s. Forty years later, the Africa-obsessed Theroux returned to the Uganda and Malawi towns where he wrote his first novels to check up on old friends, bars and savage postcolonial inequalities. In the new Dark Star Safari: Overland From Cairo to Cape Town, the author proves he's not too old to be robbed or shot at or to ride in rickety buses driven at high speeds by stoned African teenagers. The journeyman also reports that in his 40-year absence the rich/poor gap has only grown wider, and among today's most loathsome sights are the Land Rovers of aid workers, who only serve to keep the villagers dependent on handouts. Theroux reads from and signs his new book at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue). Call 314-367-6731 for more on the free event.
Thursday, April 17
The commingling of businessmen and musicians has proved a volatile, lucrative and life-wrecking combination, as seen in every episode of VH1's Behind the Music. So Adstock: Battle of the Ad Agency Bands, which takes place tonight at the Duck Room in Blueberry Hill (6504 Delmar Boulevard) from 6:30 p.m. till midnight, should be a high-octane concoction of tragedy and entertainment -- or "tragitainment," if you prefer. Employees of local ad agencies have cobbled together bands with names such as the mysterious Why Do You Ask? and the transmundane Aaron Coopers, and they will attempt to win your vote through musical skill or by merely buying your vote. Oh, don't act shocked; it's payola for a good cause: All the money raised will go to the Advertising Club of Greater St. Louis' scholarship fund. Pay $10 to get in, and if the bands are desperate enough, you just might make your money back, Cook County-style, during the voting process. Call 314-231-4185 to get all the rockin' info.
Friday, April 18
The excitement is palpable at the start of the annual Egg Hunt for Adults at Jefferson Barracks Park, near the intersection of Kingston Drive and Telegraph Road. The kids get the candy, but at this adults-only hunt, prizes include concert tickets, $10 bills and goodies donated by South County businesses. The plastic Easter eggs scattered throughout the vast park contain tiny notes with numbers on them. When the hunt's over, the scavengers learn which numbers are good for swag. A few golden eggs, which are supposedly hidden in fiendish ways, are good for big money. Bring a strong flashlight and maybe some camouflage face paint for the nighttime frenzy, which takes place 9-11 p.m. tonight and tomorrow. Egg-seekers ages eighteen and older should call 314-894-3089 to preregister and pay the $8 admission up front -- this one sells out every year.
Saturday, April 19
Every now and then, when the moon is right, the punk-rockers crawl out from their hidey-holes and ... bowl. Punk Bowling at Arcade Lanes (7579 Olive Boulevard, 314-725-4498) means live music by angry youth and the chance to bowl in a vintage eight-lane alley with charm (and lane oil) oozing from the walls. At tonight's 7:30 all-ages show, local punk and psychobilly collectives Disorange, When Sorrow Fails, Los Vomitos, the Dead New York Cops, the Pubes and the Hellraisers strike. Admission is $6; bowling is extra. Event organizer Maysam "Bassamp" Attaran reports that the second-floor alley is bizarrely decorated with, "like, a million antique things bolted to the wall," including a stove that allegedly belonged to Jesse James' mother. The time warp of Arcade Lanes, when combined with power rock, Mohawks and the inexpensive booze at the bar, is a heady mix.
Sunday, April 20
It's not just a song from Cats: Memory is a fun, free exhibit on view at the Missouri History Museum (near the intersection of Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue) through April 27. San Francisco's Exploratorium sponsors the interactive exhibit on the nature of human memory, along with some local artifacts and images designed to make you say, "Oh yeah, I remember that." The local goodies include an orange 1934 Parkmoor carhop uniform and a montage of photos from our collective memory -- the Piasa Bird, Turtle Park, Bevo Mill, the Skyview Drive-In and so on. Poet Eugene Redmond's personal "memory quilt" is a fascinating look at one person's history. A display of pieces by San Francisco artist Franco Magnani is wild: He painted scenes from the Italian hill town where he grew up, purely from memory, and then his wife, a photographer, visited the town to match his paintings up with actual views. The artist's memory is astonishing. A video of a scientist dissecting a human brain is not for the faint of heart (or brain). Call 314-746-4599 or visit www.mohistory.org for more.
Monday, April 21
The Power of Living: Become the Media Tour is one of those events that induces cringing with its description alone. Sponsor Clamor magazine purports to represent "those left out of most mainstream media," and their coverage is definitely of the politically left, morally correct, cruelty-free variety. But Clamor does not come off like radical-leftist propaganda: Stories about senior-citizen bowling leagues and grad-student union organizers are compelling because they truly are voices rarely heard in mainstream magazines. Clamor founder John Kucsma brings his magazine to the Community Arts and Media Project (3022 Cherokee Street) at 8 p.m. for readings and discussion, with screenings of movies from the Rooftop Films series. If the low-budget films made by media outsiders are as entertaining as the magazine, it should be a swell evening all around. Admission is free; uncover further details at 314-359-2505.
Tuesday, April 22
If you're still struggling to adjust to the change in season and daylight-saving time, taiko drumming will cure what ails you. The millennia-old Japanese art is brute force disguised as music, the sort of physical experience that can reset your internal clock. St. Louis Osuwa Taiko celebrates the arrival of spring with "Kaika," a free performance at 5 p.m., just in front of Mallinckrodt Center on the Washington University campus (6445 Forsyth Boulevard). Experience the dense polyrhythmic layers of taiko, think about spring's beauty and skip out of work early: It's a trifecta of spirit-enhancing delights. Call 314-935-5234 for the lowdown on the percussive throwdown.