If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates. There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. Thieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country and It's Time to Take It Back. These sentiments are more than caustic nuggets of political folk wisdom -- they're also titles of books by Jim Hightower, the tireless radio and print commentator who's been melding humor and lefty politics since before Al Franken was better known as Stuart Smalley. Hightower's cowboy-hatted populism won't impress the Derrida/Foucault postmodern wing of the left -- his straight-talking prairie fire is aimed squarely at the average working stiff. In Hightower's world, according to his Web site, "the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom." With his own Web log, daily commentary, monthly newsletter and more than 100 speeches a year, Hightower is a one-man punditocracy. Like his kindred spirit Molly Ivins -- and unlike George W. Bush or the New York Times -- Hightower's always funny, and he always gets his facts straight.
At 7 p.m. at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue), Hightower will read from his new book, Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush: More Political Subversion from Jim Hightower, and sign copies (if purchased from Left Bank Books); admission is $10. Call 314-367-6731 or visit www.left-bank.com for info. -- Jason Toon
Design of the Times
Look around you right now. Notice any elements of good design? Look closer. See that cool table over there? And that sleek car right outside the window? And what about the very chair you're sitting on? Artful design can be found in many objects all around you every day, if you pay attention -- like in John DeMott's handmade wood chair. Drop by Exclusives by CLB in Clayton (8125 Maryland Avenue; 314-721-3355) anytime Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Saturday, July 31, to see DeMott's work in the Elements show. This all-St. Louis exhibit also includes Sandy Schulz's pottery and Scott Clark's mixed media with metals (Clark has a culinary degree, so you know his pieces are in good taste). -- Alison Sieloff
A Fan Club for Fans of Fans
Think back to a long time ago, when family car trips existed without video games, movies and even air-conditioning. Can you imagine? It's summertime, and you're sticking to vinyl seats, sweating along with your family down Route 66 on your way to some stupid relative's house. And when you get there, that relation doesn't have a television with a remote or air-conditioning either. All you can do is sit in front of the fan, pretend you can't hear anyone talking to you, and try to keep cool. Sounds miserable, doesn't it? Yes, but we bet you would grow to appreciate and actually love that fan, wouldn't you? Maybe you would even join a group like the Antique Fan Collectors Association so you could collect fans, celebrate them and attend the group's annual convention (called Fan Fair, hee hee) from Wednesday, July 21, through Saturday, July 24, at the Doubletree Hotel in Chesterfield (16625 Swingley Ridge Road). It's free to browse the fans for sale (visit www.fancollectors.org for times), but the auction is only for true fans, er, group members. -- Alison Sieloff
What could possibly make the classic dogs-playing-poker painting even better? How 'bout if it was a life-size sculpture, and all the dogs represented current world leaders? Yeah, that's right. DeDe LaRue's Dogs Playing (Political) Poker has George Bush (a labradoodle, and notice his cheating ways), Osama bin Laden (an Afghan, natch), Tony Blair (English Bulldog, mate) and Kim Jong Il (a Korean Jindo dog) all playing gamblin' at the card table. LaRue's sculpture is on display at the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog (1721 South Mason Road; 314-821-3647) through September 23. Admission to the Museum is $1 to $5. -- Paul Friswold