Not long ago, there was a minor scandal when Bill Cosby walked off the set over an NBC decision to censor a sign in his TV son's bedroom. The sign called for an end to apartheid in South Africa. NBC said the sign was too political for Middle America; Cosby argued it was typical of black America. It's a good story to keep in mind when attending today's panel discussion, The Cosby Show: How TV Views the Black Family, which will feature Dr. Alvin Poussaint, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard and consultant to Cos, as well as WLS's Bill Campbell, Channel Nine news anchor Pat Harvey, and Mayor Sawyer's new press secretary, Monroe Anderson. The discussion is free and starts at 1 PM in room 605 at the Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. It's part of black history month at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Call 996-7758 for more information.
According to a recent 60 Minutes report, the Marion federal prison is probably the toughest place to be locked up in the USA. The Committee to End the Marion Lockdown says that among other things Marion's general policy of locking inmates in their cells 23 hours a day is inhuman. The group is trying to raise funds as well as consciousness about prison conditions with its showing tonight of Attica, a documentary about the 1971 prison riot that claimed 44 lives. The screening starts at 7:30 at the Wellington Avenue Church, 615 W. Wellington. Admission is $3 and child care is available. For more, call 663-5046.
In Greek mythology, dragons were slain by Hercules, Apollo, and Perseus. Sigurd, Siegfried, and Beowulf killed them in Norse, German, and early English legends. But the Chinese thought of the dragon as a god, a tradition shared throughout Asia. The Tet Organizing Committee welcomes the Year of the Dragon at the Vietnamese Lunar Now Year Celebration, beginning at 9 this morning at the International Conference Center, 4750 N. Sheridan. Admission is free. More than 30 booths will have cultural exhibits, food, and other goodies. The traditional New Year ceremony and cultural performance starts at 12:30 PM. Call 728-3700 for more.
The city fathers (and mothers) didn't much care for the great Nelson Algren when he lived here, and when Mike Royko briefly got a stretch of street named after Algren, its residents rejected the change. Now the author of The Man With the Golden Arm and Chicago: City on the Make is acquiring a posthumous respectability, and this quintessential Chicago writer is being honored with a free special exhibit at the Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, called Writing In the First Person, Nelson Algren 1909-1981. The show includes original manuscripts, first editions, correspondence, and photographs. At 1 today at the Cultural Center there'll be a free symposium on Algren that will include writers and critics who knew him. Call 269-2926 for more information.
Jock be limbo, Jock be quick, Jock go under the limbo stick! How low can you go? Find your true depth tonight at the Lizard Lounge Limbo Party, where the sounds of Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Tito Puente, and other Caribbean faves will bring you to your knees. The fun starts at 9 at 1824 W. Augusta. There's a $2 cover charge. The winner gets dinner for two. For more information, call 252-9428.
Purim celebrates Esther's chutzpah in persuading the Persian king Ahasuerus, her rather insensitive husband, to abandon the advice of his defense minister, Haman, who wanted to annihilate the Jews. Some scary scenes from the story are fleshed out by actors and mannequins in the North Suburban Lubavitch Chabad's Haman's Purim Spook and Fun House, located at the Young Men's Jewish Council, 800 Clavey Road in Highland Park. A video of the story will be shown and children can do crafts. The festivities begin at 1 today; the spook house is $1, crafts 50 cents. For details call 433-1567.
The Warsaw Ghetto Exhibition at the Holocaust Memorial Foundation is a celebration of survival. It photographically documents a historic Jewish community now gone. The foundation is at 4255 Main in Skokie; it is open 10 to 3, Monday through Friday. Admission is free, and the foundation has group tours in the late afternoon, evenings, and Sundays. For more, call 677-4640.
With most galleries closed on Mondays, the hunger for art can still be satisfied at the Art Institute, where an exhibition by Chicago's hometown hero, Buzz Spector, continues through April 17. The Library of Babel, a sculptural installation based on Jorge Luis Borges's story of the same name, describes the philosophical paradoxes of the universe contained in a vast library. It's in Gallery 249 at the museum, Michigan Avenue at Adams. Doors open at 10:30 AM; the suggested donation is $5 for adults, $2.50 for children, students, and seniors. Tuesdays are free. For more information, call 443-3626.
"Sweet Honey in the Rock / Know it tastes like honey in the rock / I come warm, I come gentle, and I come strong, and I come cooing / Know it tastes like honey in the rock"; so says the old black traditional. The five women who make up Sweet Honey in the Rock, the a cappella quintet, will be wowing 'em tonight at 7 in the Illinois Room of Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. Tickets are $10, $7 for UIC students and faculty. It's another black history month event. For more, call 413-5070.
The ultimate yuppie, David Stockman, President Reagan's former director of the Office of Management and Budget and the author of The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, will be talking about The Irony of the Reagan Revolution, which sounds a lot like a sequel, today at 4 at the University of Chicago Law School, 1111 E. 60th St. It's free. There's more information at 702-8360.
The best thing about media artist Peter Rose is his sense of humor. It'll be in full force tonight when he gives a presentation of his work, including Secondary Currents, The Man Who Could Not See Far Enough, and the video/performance piece, The Pressures of the Text. You have to love a guy with titles like that. It starts at 7 in the auditorium of the School of the Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is $4, $3 for students. For more information, call 443-3744.
Clarence Page, the Trib's award-winning columnist, holds court today at 12:15 PM in the Public Library's Writers in Conversation series. Page should have plenty to say: he's been an overseas reporter, a radio commentator, a TV reporter, and the editor of A Foot in Each World: Essays and Articles by Leanita McLain, a collection of writing by his late wife and predecessor on the Tribune editorial board. The free program's in the theater of the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 269-2882 for more.
The 19th-century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow may not seem like much of a party animal to you, but at the Village Smithy they dont mess around when it comes to the Tenth Annual Longfellow Birthday Party in honor of the New England poet. There'll be readings of Longfellow's greatest hits and complete Longfellow dinners, including Maine lobster ($17.95), prime rib ($13.95), and a traditional chestnut birthday cake. The restaurant starts serving at 5 at 368 Park Avenue in Glencoe. Call 835-0220 for reservations and other details.
A Self-Help Group for Male Survivors of Childhood Abuse is being started by Ravenswood Hospital to provide a place of support. All information will be kept in strictest confidence. Registration costs $12 for the six-week session starting at 8 tonight at 4545 N. Damen. For more information, call the Consultation and Education department of Ravenswood Community Mental Health Center at 878-4300, ext. 1455.