Cleveland Heights' Party in the Heights summer series peaks with tonight's Coventry Street Fair, a family-friendly gathering of jugglers, clowns, face painters, magicians, balloon sculptors, and artists. Food and drink vendors will set up shop on the sidewalks, alongside outdoor displays from many of the area's clothing, book, and tchotchke stores. There's also live music on tap, with a headlining performance by blues/swing band Blue Lunch. It all happens from 6 to 9 p.m. on Coventry Road, between Euclid Heights Boulevard and Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights. Admission is free. Call 216-371-3344 for more information.
Friday, August 12
Today's Mid-Summer Beach Party is packed with everything that's great about warm-weather months: a water balloon toss, balloon stomp, limbo contest, and sweaty games of beach volleyball. (There's also something called a Shake N' Bake contest.) Prizes go to the winners, and KISS-FM (WAKS/96.5) will spin tunes and hand out goodies. The sun-soaked fun happens from noon to 5 p.m. at Huntington Beach in Huntington Reservation (off Lake Road in Bay Village). Admission is free; call 216-635-3200.
Salvador Plascencia, a member of the McSweeney's stable of writers, has no aspiration to see his sprawling, invigorating new novel, The People of Paper, on the big screen. "This is not a cinematic book," he says. "People ask, Is there going to be a movie?' That's irrelevant. The book is its own thing. It's the best narrative form we have." The People of Paper is a twisty account of the people of El Monte, a small town near Los Angeles where Plascencia's family settled after moving from Mexico 20 years ago, when he was eight. "Part of it is based on exploring the mythology of where I grew up," he says. "The characters are composites of people I knew." The denizens astonish, from the frazzled war veteran to the woman made out of paper. Even more memorable is how Plascencia uses his pages as a playground; the book features charts, graphs, lists, and metric conversions. "I wasn't thinking in straight narrative," he says. "I was thinking in conversions and graphs and visual poetics. I love books. Nothing approaches the intimacy and beauty of the novel. I wanted to explore what the novel was, in terms of the reading experience." Plascencia (and some of his McSweeney's cohorts) reads his book at 7 tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst. Admission is free. Call 216-691-7000 for more information.
Saturday, August 13
Osyrus misses the '80s. The local band's self-titled debut blazes with riffs, production, and throat-tearing singing straight outta the decade that gave us hair metal. And even if contemporary sounds trickle in (there's a post-grunge groove to several of the songs), we bet plenty of nights have been spent lamenting Nirvana's arrival. From rapid guitar arpeggios to a CD cover Dokken would approve of, this is nostalgia rock that would never cop to it. Osyrus rocks the Hi-Fi Club (11729 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 216-521-8878.
Sunday, August 14
Vendetta Red's second album, Sisters of the Red Death, comes out in two weeks, and the Seattle band's arsenal of hooks and themes hasn't changed much since its debut a couple years ago. Genuine melodies find their way between musings on drug abuse and violence -- just like they did with Nirvana, Vendetta's obvious inspiration. The group's also scored the song title of the year with "Vendetta Red Cried Rape on Their Date With Destiny." They play the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 6 p.m. Tickets are $12, available by calling 216-241-5555.
Monday, August 15
It's not easy keeping cool in August. The botanical garden's Wet & Wild in the Garden wants to help. Built around a series of water-related demos and exhibits, the month-long series comes loaded with useful tips and activities for both grown-ups and children. From the joys of aquascaping to designing your own water garden, it's one cool way to keep cool. Get wet and wild from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, 11030 East Boulevard. It's free with museum admission -- $7.50, $3 for kids. Call 216-721-1600 for more info.
Tuesday, August 16
If you're expecting (or would that be hoping?) 311 to give its riddim rock a break on its new album, Don't Tread on Me (which comes out today), you don't know 311 very well. For 15 years, the Nebraska ska/punk/hip-pop group has stayed on groove. Honestly, we can't tell the difference between "Down" and "All Mixed Up" (or any of its other big radio hits, for that matter). And you can thank (or curse) 311 for the whole white-boys-who-rap-with-guitars-and-a-DJ genre. For making Fred Durst a household name, we'll never forgive. Still, they ignite onstage, where it all comes together -- but in a good way. 311 is at Tower City Amphitheater (351 Canal Road) at 7 tonight. Papa Roach and Unwritten Law open. Tickets are $35, available by calling 216-241-5555.
Wednesday, August 17
Los Angeles' Southland has been unfairly lumped in with the frat-jam-band movement. The five guys take the time to explore the melodies in their songs, rather than merely toking up and hoping for the best. That's not to say they don't enjoy some of the genre's more superficial traits, such as geek-like proficiency with their instruments and totally oblique lyrics. Still, on their gentle debut, Influence of Geography, they sound more like Death Cab for Cutie than, say, Widespread Panic. Southland shares a bill with O.A.R. and Pepper at 7 p.m. at Tower City Amphitheater, 351 Canal Road. Tickets are $27.50 ($25 in advance), available by calling 216-241-5555.