Lit stuff: E.M. Forster's A Passage to India has fascinated decades of readers with its portrayal of the philosophical clash between East and West. The Prophetic Novel, a new book by Chicagoan Molly Daniels (of Clothesline School of Fiction fame), examines how Forster weaves multiple belief systems within a single narrative. "Forster's masterpiece is one of a handful of most-discussed novels," say the folks at 57th Street Books, "yet no one has shown by what technique imperialism, humanism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, scientism, and the traditions of both East and West can coexist with equal luminosity in a single novel." Daniels, who was born in India, signs books and reads from the works of W.B. Yeats and W.H. Auden today at the store, 1301 E. 57th St., from 2 to 4. Call 684-1300.
Folk Art Graffiti Images and Environments, a series of photographs by Aron Packer, opens today at the Plum Line Gallery, 1511 Chicago in Evanston. Packer is an artist and photographer and a collector of outsider art; the photos in the current exhibition focus on carved and painted art he's found on the boulders and slabs of concrete on the Chicago lakefront, some of them dating back as far back as 1931. Packer will be there tonight from 7 to 9; the exhibit will remain up through November 8. It's free. Call 708-328-7586.
Think the 47th Ward needs cleaning up? So does Alderman Gene Schulter. The 47th Ward Fall Cleanup--where businesses, organizations, and just plain folks pitch in and clean up the streets from Andersonville to Ravenswood--gets under way today. You can pick up supplies starting at 8:30 at the 47th Ward Sanitation Office, 2414 W. Cuyler; give Schulter's office a call at 271-4423 or 728-6300 for more details.
From the dept. of Halloween preparations: The Goodman Theatre is opening up its closets today for the benefit of hopeful trick-or-treaters and masqueraders. The Goodman costume sale runs from 11 to 4; it includes everything from the showgirl outfits from Pal Joey to the rather more elaborate sartorial foofaraw designed for the theater's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. (Frat alert: togas from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will be up for grabs as well.) Prices range from 25 cents to $150, cash only; admission is free. The Goodman is at 200 S. Columbus. Call 443-4940.
Ned Schwartz, owner and director of Beret International Gallery, thinks that too many of the new and supposedly alternative galleries that open up are just "clones" of already-existing venues, so he's been trying to "raise consciousness" with an outre-as-possible approach to gallery-meistering. Hence the Free Art Show, a one-night-only affair in which artists will give their work away for free! Doors open at 6 PM; you can walk around and sign up for the pieces you want from 8 to 9; the giveaway's at 9. Beret International is at 2211 N. Elston; call 489-0282 or 489-6518.
If you're going to Uranus, a reputedly astringent look at the lives of collaborators and noncollaborators in post-Vichy France starring Gerard Depardieu and directed by Claude Berri (Jean de Florette, Manon of the Spring), today at the Fine Arts, you can troop next door to Roosevelt University's second-floor Sullivan Room afterward for a discussion led by history professor Leon Stein. The movie starts at 1:30 at 418 S. Michigan; the discussion follows immediately at 430 S. Michigan. $10 gets you into both events; call 341-3510 for reservations.
More film stuff: documentarian Robert Mugge's tribute to the Mississippi Delta, Deep Blues, was executive-produced by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics and is narrated by blues expert and former New York Times pop critic Robert Palmer. Palmer and guitarist Lonnie Pitchford will be on hand tonight at 6 at the Film Center, Columbus and Jackson, to present the film, and Pitchford will perform after. Tickets are $5. Call 443-3608.
The Benson and Hedges Blues Festival continues tonight with the Ladies Night Out Blues Express. One $5 ticket gets you access to a half dozen blues shows, to wit: Melvina Allen at the Checkerboard Lounge (423 E. 43rd; 624-3240); Sandra Wright & Soul Kitchen at Buddy Guy's Legends (754 S. Wabash; 427-0333); Gloria Hardiman at Blue Chicago (937 N. State; 642-6261); Dimples Escort at the Celebrity Lounge (4830 S. Cottage Grove; 538-4283); Barbria Haynes, Adrienne Locke, Jazzma Morgan, and Teela Owens at the Cotton Club (1710 S. Michigan; 341-9787); and Kanika Kress at Blues Chicago on Clark (536 N. Clark; 661-0100). The $5 also includes shuttle-bus transportation between clubs from 7 to 12:30 AM; you can board 'em at any of the clubs. Call the clubs or 878-9209 for more details.
You can sneak away for a quiet lunchtime concert today as pianist Theodore Edel, an associate professor and artist-in-residence at the University of Illinois at Chicago, plays Mozart and Tchaikovsky as part of the "Tuesday at One" concert series. The free concert starts at 1 in room L060 of the Education, Communications, and Social Work building, 1040 W. Harrison. Call 996-2977.
Then Let Men Know: A Portrait of Shakespeare's Women is a one-woman show by Claire Bloom--yes, the Claire Bloom of Charlie Chaplin's Limelight, TV's Brideshead Revisited, and a still-remembered performance as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at London's Old Vic Theatre in 1952. The title is a paraphrase of a line from The Two Gentlemen of Verona: "They do not love that do not show their love / O! They love least that let men know their love." Bloom does her show today at 5 in the downstairs auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State, as part of Arts Club of Chicago Day, a series of events to celebrate the Arts Club's 75th anniversary. It's free. For more information, call 787-3997.
Photographer Jock Sturges and painter Rita Halvorsen are two prominent artists who've had uncomfortably direct experiences with governmental interference of late--Sturges had his life's work confiscated by San Francisco police who thought they were nabbing a child pornographer, and Halvorsen had her home and studio searched when police thought she was a smuggler. The pair will be on a panel today called Who's Watching: Privacy & Surveillance in the Arts, along with reps from the local ACLU and the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression and Akua Njeri, the widow of Fred Hampton. It's $5, in the seventh-floor recital hall of Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan, tonight from 6:30 to 9. Call 670-2060.
The latest entry into Chicago's suddenly crowded array of high-tech nightclubs--one that already includes sprawling, swanky spots like Shelter, Ka-Boom!, and the China Club--is Fifteen Thirty-One, at 1531 N. Kingsbury. Owned by Jim Levin and designed by James Geier, the club reportedly will have a dance floor, an outdoor deck with a movie screen, a pool room, and even a tattoo parlor. You can get an advance look at the club--it won't open officially for a few more weeks--at a tony benefit for the Junior Board of the United Cerebral Palsy Association tonight. The $35 dollar ticket ($30 in advance) gets you access to an open bar from 7 to midnight, hors d'oeuvres, and entry in a raffle (with prizes like trips and plane tickets). Call 368-0380 for details.
Just in time for its 200th anniversary, an original copy of the Bill of Rights--this one belonging to the state of Virginia--will hit town today as part of a 15,000-square-foot multimedia exhibit at Navy Pier, Grand Avenue at the lake. It'll be on exhibit from 10 to 6 today, 10 to 8 Friday through Sunday, and 10 to 4 Monday. It's free to go look. Call 791-7437 for more.