Program Notes

School books are flipped open, homework awaits, the leaves are turning to a loamy rainbow, September's earthen burden has - whoa. Criminy, we're starting to sound like Spy magazine. What September is around here is Women in Music Month, Cactus Cantina's annual salute to distaff songmakers. Apart from the not-minor fact that femmes drink for half price all month, Cactus pricks interest by staging four thoroughly excellent acts this weekend, with more to come throughout the next few weeks. This Friday it's Big Art, a potent, upbeat bluesy outfit starring supersinger Wendy Pederson, and the Source, a smart duo co-starring Patty Garcia. Lynne Noble, a gritty sawdust-and-jeans-voiced veteran, brings her Survivors to the club on Saturday. Mavericks Raul Malo and Ben Peeler team with the amazing fiddle-player-plus Debbie Spring for Sunday's show. Personally, I could care less if Pederson, Garcia, Noble, and Spring had sex-change operations. All four can blow the roof off a barn, and music should know no bounds, sex or otherwise - whoops, now we're drifting into New Yorker territory.

Another woman in music, erstwhile Vesper Sparrow Mary Karlzen, whose CD is due out January 13, brings her new trio to Washington Square this Saturday. Karlzen's CD will be the second such release by Y&T, and features Raul Malo on background vocals for one track. Malo's Mavericks, as you well know, were Y&T's first CD issue. To keep the symmetry going, the Mavs also appear on this bill, their final show before they begin recording for MCA (at Criteria).

Churchill's Hideaway hopes to renew the acoustic-party-on-the-patio tradition. If you play it that way, give Dave Daniels a call at 757-1807.

Compilation king Jeff Sadowsky and rap mogul Star Masta R have teamed to open a retail outlet specializing in records and comic books. Right now it's known as American Multimedia Exchange, and the proprietors say they're out to buy used records, comic books, and maybe CDs. Call 'em at 899-2811.

We recently devoted some of this space to the club-shows-versus-concerts argument, noting that local rock clubs offer a primo alternative to shelling out a hundred bills to see has-beens with high-tech light shows. We contained the extrapolation to rock, and would now like to extrapolate that a bit more by mentioning the fact that there are other club alternatives - namely Tropics, the Clevelander, and Shuckers - that offer jazz, reggae, blues, and other forms by top acts - with no cover charge at all, ever. Read those "Club Listings," take advantage of local resources, and worry about what happens to the Arena later.

Butthorn of the week: Wichita, Kansas, anti-abortion protesters. Sorry to stray so far from home, Dorothy, but enough is too much already. At first I joked that if these parents were being toted to jail, who would take care of their children? It's not funny any more, because now I learn that the unaborted children of these "parents" are also being arrested. When I was a punk kid, my dad sometimes told me to "go play in traffic." We both knew he didn't mean the quip to be taken seriously, because we both knew he cared about me and would do anything to make my life safe and happy. Too bad that can't be said of the miserable cretins barricading abortion clinics in Wichita. They allow - nay, encourage - their children to literally play in traffic, thereby causing their children to be arrested. And they presume to interfere in the parenthood planning of others. Good God. They ought to retroactively abort every one of them.

The media circus: I didn't freak out when a Miami Herald story last week confused characters named Harper, Heath, and Holloway, turning a male into a female, and making him out to be a murder-conspiracy suspect to boot. But I lost it completely when the Herald served up a senseless conundrum that - follow closely now - said Dexter Manley threatened to hurt Larry Wilson during a pro football game. Manley was released by Phoenix. Wilson is the GM of Phoenix. Manley was picked up by the Tampa Bay Bucs. "Something...could happen to Wilson," the report states, "if Manley could get into the Los Angeles Rams' lineup for the opening game against the Bucs." You figure it out.