For us '80s kids, Aimee Mann has

had the lock on sad-chick music-

correction: sad smart-chick music-

ever since she confessed to having a boyfriend who wanted her to shut up in "Voices Carry," her biggest hit as the lead singer of 'Til Tuesday. Since then, Mann's voice has gotten stronger and her music has gained her legions of fans and an Academy Award nomination for "Save Me," off the


soundtrack. It was that cheerless ballad ("You look like/a perfect fit/for a girl in need/of a tourniquet") that catapulted Mann into a higher sphere of recognition but, thankfully for all the

sad smart-chicks out (t)here, her lyrics still reflect an ongoing narrative of co-dependence, existential angst and the exhaustion of loving addicted personalities. Her fifth solo release,

The Forgotten Arm

, mines these same themes, but is a departure in several ways. The album is narrative and much more concept-driven than previous albums. Also, musically the album is more heavily piano-influenced, lending a sense of maturation and, at times, optimism and tenderness. In "Beautiful," Mann sings, "Why does it hurt me / To feel so much tenderness? / Beautiful / Wish you could see it too." Soon, though, the lyrics drift to: "Maybe then I held your hand and kissed you / I know once I just hauled off and hit you." Hey, it's Aimee Mann-no happy endings yet. (



A Many-Octaved Thing

Athena Reich's press materials describe her as a cross between "Aimee Mann, Diamanda Galas and Laurie Anderson." Surely this conjures up visions of a depressed Wiccan sporting both a multi-octave voice and a suit. But don't be fooled: The similarities center more around Reich's knack for nailing down femme-centric (femme as in female, not femme as in opposed to butch) themes by combining both singer-songwriter and performance artist sensibilities, with a smidge of cabaret thrown in. Oh, she does boast a multi-octave voice, that part's accurate. And let's not forget, for this, the second annual Pre-Halloween Trash and Pop Dragfest, she's joined by muy suave Cooper Lee Bombardier, a queer-centric poet and performance artist whom we've stolen from San Francisco and we refuse to give back, and two of Santa Fe's best DJs spinning pop and disco. Guess what ladies and gents (and all those in between)? We've got ourselves a genuine cutting-edge GLBT (and all those in between) event, Santa Fe style. (




Look! Up in the sky-it's a bird! It's a plane! It's William Pope L falling to earth and challenging the weird social glue found in the mythology behind America's quintessential superhero. The culture of hero adoration and, perhaps more poignantly, heroic expectation is explored from comic idols and the cult of celebrity to presidents in generously endowed flight suits and the iconic deities of fast-food chains. All that and more when the mutant powers of Pope L are

joined by Jane Benson, Erin Currier, Richard Kurtz and Chad Person for this multi-faceted exhibition delving into the core of some of our more sensitive communal values. In a culture that so longs for reverence and meaning, why is heroism, leadership and admiration so easily assigned to the bizarre and extreme poles of patriarchal machismo and pop propaganda and so difficult to understand on a human, interpersonal, familial and real level? Bring your secret decoder rings and be prepared to shine a super-powered light of truth and justice on yourself. (



Hicks and Stones…

Walking the line between journalist and instigator, Sander Hicks didn't make many friends in high places when he published

Fortunate Son

, a critical biography of the president, a few years back. Now Hicks is back and he's poking his sharp investigative stick into even more corporate and government eyes with

The Big Wedding

. Named for the supposed code word for the 9.11 attacks, the book is the culmination of four years of focused research and it

details, among other uncomfortable relationships and facts, the CIA's relationship with Pakistani intelligence and, by extension, the 9.11 terrorists. Hicks, incidentally, was briefly a Taoseño who found inspiration in New Mexico to finish his book. "You all are the capital of America's Holy Land," Hicks told SFR. "I wouldn't have gotten perspective on the course of the world and 9.11 if not for my year in New Mexico. I came back re-charged by the angels of the Anasazi and wrote

The Big Wedding

." Add radical singer/songwriter Holley Anderson to the mix and we're in for an evening riddled, like life, with tough truths, weird ideas and good times. (