The other holidays this week, Palm Sunday and Tax Deadline Day, don't have acronym contests to go with them. There is, however, a chance to get advice on both in one fell swoop, by taking up the American Bible Society's offer of free income tax assistance. If you've flaked out so far this millennium on both your returns and your Scripture study, just call 877-719-2221 to schedule an appointment. Render unto Congress that which is Congress'.
Okay, enough about butts and flaking. On Monday there's a New School panel discussion on Faith-Based Community Development, featuring the Revs. Calvin Butts III and Floyd Flake. David Dinkins will speak at a "scholarship luncheon" to follow, unless the event's official press release is correct, in which case someone named "David Dinkens" will give the talk instead. You almost get the idea someone isn't quite completely serious about improving the quality of life in neighborhoods of color. And I don't mean the guys with the funny names. The panel and luncheon are in conjunction with the American Planning Association's annual conference, which is going on this week at the New York Hilton (410-235-7577 for info). Kinda fascinating the way they still give college degrees in urban planning, despite its not having been tried in any American big city since the end of the Johnson administration. Wake me up when the profession admits that Jane Jacobs was right about everything, or when a reverend calls for drug-law reform. (4/17, 9:30 a.m., at Tishman Auditorium, 66 W. 12th St. at 5th Ave., 410-230-3163, free.)
I was in Amsterdam recently, and couldn't help but notice that an ingenious planning policy in place there made the city really nice to be in. Undoubtedly, the scheme derived from a masterful tract called something like, "Whaddya Say We Don't Knock Down All the Beautiful Old Buildings?" It was probably written in response to that French tome, influential in America, Make Way for "Futuristic" Designs That Will Remind Us of the 1970s Forever! Such was the thinking behind our current Penn Station and Madison Square Garden?buildings so hideous compared to what they replaced that New York's Historic Preservation movement was born in response. Just in time for rumors of the Garden's impending transformation from a monument to state stupidity into one to oligarchic rapacity, there's this weekend's Historic District Council's annual Preservation Conference. The focus is not the mecca of basketball, but rather Harlem, which is also richly historic, yet not owned by Cablevision at this time. Saturday's featured speaker is Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and on the next day historic walking tours of East, West and Central Harlem will be offered. (4/15-16, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Lenox Ave. at 135th St., 614-9107, $25, $20 st., tours extra.)
Might as well see the World Champion New York Yankees as many times as possible before their inevitable move from the Bronx Where They Belong. Get started with the first two home stands of the 2000 season, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:05 against the Rangers, then Friday at 7:05, Saturday and Sunday at 1:05 against Kansas City. (4/12-16, 161st St. at River Ave., Bronx, 718-293-4300, $8-$50.) Another chance to get outside in the fresh urban air is Sunday's Earth Day Celebration at South St. Seaport, Battery Park and World Trade Plaza. Alternatively fueled vehicles like the ones smug suburbanites will someday drive to a suburban Yankee Stadium will be on display at all three locations. At Battery Park from 1-4 p.m. kids age 6-12 who bring four plastic soda bottles get a free Earth Fair t-shirt made from recycled soda bottles, while supplies last. Seriously. (922-0177 or earthdayny.com for more info.)
It's amazing how many lectures there are this week, considering the likelihood of a major break in the weather. Four weeks ago, sure, you would have gone to hear John Simpson, chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, converse with Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman, about the astounding story behind the ultimate authoritative work about our language. (4/12, 6 p.m., at the Bartos Forum of the Humanities and Social Sciences Public Library, 42nd St. at 5th Ave., 930-0855, $10.) But now that it's warm, our language is perhaps one less stuffy, and you're likely to instead spend Wednesday evening attending the American verisimilitude of MC Paul Barman and the incomparable Kool Keith at Wetlands. (4/12, 161 Hudson St. at Laight St., 386-3600, $20?steep!) Makes sense.
By the same token, in, say, February, a Queens College all-day symposium on "The American Century" as seen through the lives and works of Aaron Copland and Louis Armstrong would've been the best possible way to spend a Saturday. (4/15 at Lefrak Concert Hall, L.I.E. at Kissena Blvd., Queens, 718-997-5210.) But this Saturday is when the second-annual Blessing of the Bicycles will take place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. That sprinkle of holy water could prevent you from getting car-doored. (4/15, 2 p.m., 112th St. at Amsterdam Ave., 316-7540, free.) Whatsmore, Saturday is also the day of the first big, Manhattan street fair of the season. It has an environmental theme, for Earth Day, and you know what that means: genuine leather belts, sausage sandwiches, cheap Gap t-shirts and $2 corn on the cob, just like at every other street fair. (4/15, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., on Waverly Pl. betw. B'way & 5th Ave., 809-4900.) Can't miss that, but you can get your hogflesh hero and still make it out to Queens in time for the gala Copland/Armstrong concert that follows the symposium. It features Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra. (8 p.m., 718-793-8080, $20.)
One more time: Profs. Mark Crispin Miller and Neil Postman, with their hilariously snobbish and alarmist views of pop culture, make a great comic team. And guests Ralph Nader, Arianna Huffington and Lewis Lapham, if they're half as funny in person as they are smugly self-satisfied in print, could make Thursday's NYU Schmios Awards ceremony a real hootenanny. The mock awards show promises to "shed light on the history, values, strategy and tactics of commercial advertising." I vote for that Alta Vista spot with the Incredible Hulk clips! Dot-commers want you to think they're improving the world, when really they're all about commodifying the Hulk! Fuck 'em! (4/13, 7 p.m., at NYU's Saklad Auditorium, 421 1st Ave., betw. 24th & 25th Sts., 998-5635, $10, $3 st.) Yeah, NYU calling other corporations hypocritical is pretty humorous, but is Schmios really going to be as weightlessly entertaining as the second installment of What I Like About Jew?, Sean Altman and Rob Tannenbaum's new showcase of Tribal songwriting talent, also scheduled for Thursday? With a nod to tax day, its theme will be "money and its place in Jewish lore and culture." How Heimytown. (4/13 at the Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard St., betw. Church St. & B'way, 219-3055, $12, $10 adv.)
Which reminds me: There's a public conversation between Manning Marable and Minister Benjamin F. Muhammad (formerly Ben Chavis, Jr.), East Coast representative for Minister Louis Farrakhan, Tuesday at Columbia. (4/18, 7:30 p.m., at Columbia University's Schapiro Center, 530 W. 120th St. at B'way, info at www.columbia.edu/cu/iraas.) Probably fascinating, but in keeping with the seasonal spirit of lightness, humor, planning and resistance against butt phobia, the better move might be to catch Choclair's set. The Toronto rapper is opening, with Rahzel from the Roots, for Mix Master Mike that same night at Irving Plaza. A few weeks ago I gave Choclair some faint praise. Since then his debut album Ice Cold has grown on me. It comes with a lot of what's cool about current pop-rap?extreme syncopation, high-tech productions skewed toward maximum impact?plus an additional layer of lyrical depth. Slick yet real, he's probably going to be a big star sooner rather than later?assuming capitalism, wit, rugged individualism and craft stay in style. (4/18, 17 Irving Pl. at 15th St., 777-6800, $22, $20 adv.)