"Stay in your car unless it's on fire" is the first spoken sentence in the 2003 documentary Speedo. The story of a dedicated demolition-derby driver, his cars, his kids, his struggles and his lady friends, Speedo is entertaining from banging start to contemplative finish.
At the messy, grinding New York and New Jersey demolition derbies, Ed "Speedo" Jager is king. Cars catch fire, stall and die, but not for Speedo. In this ugly sport, he is the craftiest, most aggressive and most victorious dude on the dirt. It should be mentioned that there are certain opportunities for cheating in the derbies, if you're clever -- and Speedo, despite having a New Yawk accent so thick it would shame Lou Ferrigno, is no dummy.
Whether Speedo is slamming his wildly painted station wagon into another car's fender, cringing when his pink-haired son takes the stage to front a noisy punk band, sneaking a joint after winning a derby or falling in love with a fellow derby rat, he is Everyman, and we root for him. (At Webster University's Moore Auditorium, 470 East Lockwood Avenue; Friday, October 17-Sunday, October 19; $5-$6; 314-968-7487; www.speedo69.com; after the Friday and Saturday screenings, audience members can ask questions of special guests "Speedo" Jager and film director Jesse Moss). -- Byron Kerman
Open the Rock Club Doors, Hal
Electric madness with Captured! By Robots
Those who came to the last Captured! By Robots show (at the Hi-Pointe earlier this year) were absolutely blown away by the experience. Try to imagine a cast of robot musicians, powered by electricity and pneumatics, playing the drums, guitar and horns, and making wisecracks between songs. Imagine two stuffed apes that play tambourines and talk to each other about the specialness of love. Imagine J-Bot, the only human in the ensemble, wearing shackles, a shirtful of bloody fake intestines and a bondage mask with two huge, fake eyeballs popping through it (he has been Captured! By Robots, you see), singing along with his robot slavemasters. Head to the Rocket Bar (2001 Locust Street, 9 p.m., 314-588-0055, www.capturedbyrobots.com; $8) for a jaw-dropping one-man show. -- Byron Kerman
East Side artists open their studios
Artists across the Big Muddy show off their natural environments by opening their studios for Art EAST (Edwardsville-Alton Studio Tour) this weekend and next. According to press materials, this self-guided tour "brings local artists in direct contact with the public" (but please don't feed them). In Alton this Saturday, October 18, and Sunday, October 19, options range from Patricia Badman's oil on canvas studio show and Gary Levi's blown, carved glass at the Milton School, to Louann Brown's metal and found object assemblage at the Alton Museum of History and Art, to Tanya Varble's mixed-media dolls, also at the Milton School.
And because one weekend of cultural enlightenment isn't enough, in Edwardsville on October 25 and 26 you can visit Mike Wild's studio and see his sculptural creations, pop in Frames by 3 for Lois Adomite's pressed flowers and stop by Sacred Grounds for Yvette Booker's basketry. Call 618-656-3348 or visit www.greatriverroad.com/arteast.htm for exact locations and more information on this free event. And remember that these artists are not starving, no matter how much they beg. -- Alison Sieloff
From the mid '80s to early '90s, Washington D.C. churned out an impressive amount of challenging and innovative punk rock. The latter '90s suffered a lull, but the scene today seems to be making a comeback. Wash. U.'s Gargoyle (Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard, 314-935-5917) will host a small showcase of three of the city's newest acts: the frenetic Q and Not U, the art-damaged French Toast and the dubby political squawk of Black Eyes. Tickets are $7. -- Guy Gray