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Friday 1

Max Collins and Dick Locher, the pair that kept "Dick Tracy" going when its creator Chester Gould retired, will be the special guests at the 13th annual Chicago Comicon. More than 200 other top comic-book artists and writers will also be at the convention, as will 100 vendors selling vintage and new comic books and other memorabilia. The show runs from 10 to 7 today at the Ramada O'Hare Hotel, Mannheim and Higgins roads in Rosemont; from 10 to 6 on Saturday; 10 to 5 on Sunday. Admission is $6 per day. For more information, call 274-1832 between 1 and 5.

After spending the day at the Comicon, you'll want to continue with Comic Book Craziness at the Limelight, which will feature the work of 20 comic-book artists: comic books, paintings, LP covers, and T-shirts. There will also be live music and a special performance by Chicago stuntmen decked out as their favorite comic-book characters. The Limelight is at 632 N. Dearborn. It's free between 9 and 11 if you have an invitation, and $5 with an invitation after 11. Call 337-2985 for an invitation.

The old CrossCurrents club is being resurrected as Cotton Chicago, a new entry in the city's blues circuit. The club's owner is James Cotton, master of the blues harp and veteran of jams with the likes of Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters, Janis Joplin, Steve Miller, and Johnny Winter. There will be a grand-opening performance by Cotton himself--it's his birthday--at 10 and midnight tonight at the club, 3204 N. Wilton. Tickets are $8. Call 528-1651 for more.

Saturday 2

Established in 1940, the 50,000-member National Federation of the Blind works to improve the quality of the lives of blind people. Today the NFB's 48th annual convention, which runs through next Saturday; kicks off at the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker, with speeches and seminars intended to help break down public misconceptions about blindness. It starts at 9 AM and admission for the entire week is only $5. For more information, call 565-1234, ext. 3471.

With the current drought breaking records almost daily, a good patch of green is hard to find. But at the Garfield Farm Museum, the waist-high prairie cord grass is flowering and producing seed. While the native grass may not grow as high as it would under wetter conditions, it is not suffering the way the European imports are. On the museum's July walk, called Drought on the Prairie, biologist Jerome Johnson will identify native and foreign flora, and will describe how the current conditions affect them. The walk starts at 9:30 AM at the museum, five miles west of Geneva, on Route 38 at Garfield Road (3N016 Garfield). It's $2. Call 584-8485 to make reservations or to get more details.

Sunday 3

They'll be playing Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, and then a medley of military marches during the spectacular, free, one-day-early Independence Day Concert and Fireworks at Grant Park tonight. With the skyline aglow to the west and the lake crowned with fireworks to the east, this will be one of the best nights to be in the park. The music starts at 8. The Petrillo band shell is located at the corner of Jackson and Columbus Drive. Call 819-0614 for more information.

If joining the crowd of people in Grant Park and along the shoreline sounds like joining too many sardines in a can, you may want to watch the fireworks from the deck of a cruise ship. The Mercury Cruiseline is offering a special trip tonight; the boat leaves at 9 from the lower level of Wacker Drive at the Michigan Avenue bridge. lt's $15 for adults, $10 for kids. For more information, call 332-1368.

Monday 4

Leading all comers in the polls for the upcoming mayoral election, State's Attorney Richard M. Daley is smiling like the Cheshire cat these days. Right now, he says, he's only running for state's attorney (tee hee hee), but don't all politicians like to top the polls? Those who hear Daley speak today at the Chicago Historical Society's 29th Old Fourth of July Celebration should listen hard--not just to hear his views on patriotism, but to catch any reference to his intentions. The CHS party will also feature a reading of the Declaration of Independence, the Chicago "Pops" Concert Band, free flags and balloons, the Marine Corps color guard, a juggler, and a clown. And surely apple pie, too. The free fun runs from 10:15 to noon at the society's Uihlein Plaza at Clark and North Avenue. Afterward, everyone's invited to visit the museum for free. Call 642-4600 for more.

Salsa, contrary to popular notion, is an honest-to-Pete American invention-not unlike baseball, rock 'n' roll, and Coca-Cola. The hot sounds often associated with Latin America and the tropics are actually a combination of Afro-Cuban rhythms and American jazz. Born in the sweltering downtown clubs of New York and shaped by the likes of Chano Pozo and Machito, salsa has a harder and faster beat than most music south of the border. So when you go enjoy Orquesta Primavera, today's main act in the season-long 1988 Summer Latin Music Festival, remember this ain't no foreign import. Conductor Greg Aguirre will be striking up the congas and bongos at 3 this afternoon at Pulaski Park, 1419 W. Blackhawk. It's free. For more, call 294-4705.

Tuesday 5

"If I never want to see a man, I don't say 'This isn't working out,' or 'I don't want to see you anymore,'" explains comic Rita Rudner. "I just say, 'You know, I love you. I want to marry you. I want to have your children.' Sometimes they leave skid marks." This David Letterman favorite will be headlining at George's, 230 W. Kinzie, today through July 10; Tuesday through Thursday at 8, Friday and Saturday at 8 and 10:30, and Sunday at 8. Tickets are $10 and $12.50. For more information, call 644-2290.

Wednesday 6

Come juggle, skate, read your poetry, or sing the blues. The Wednesday Night Open Mike at U.S. Blues guarantees a lively forum for your hidden talent. The Bluegills band will be performing and may do a little backup for all you closet blues wailers. There's no cover for this extravaganza at 1446 N. Wells. The music starts at 9:30. For more, call 266-4978.

Thursday 7

Abstract imagery is the focus of Revlis Noisiv, Silver Visions From the Permanent Collection, which runs through July 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Featuring work by Harry Callahan, Jed Devine, Steven Foster, Tom Goodman, Joseph Jachna, Nathan Lerner, Ray Metzker, David Plowden, Jerry Uelsman, and the inimitable Barbara Crane, the show includes early work that points to the artists' future visions. The museum is at 600 S. Michigan. The exhibit is free, Monday through Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from noon to 4. For more, call 663-5554.

One out of four Illinois couples who want to marry are doing it in neighboring states to avoid the hassle and cost of an HIV test. Required by law since Penny Pullen pushed the panic button and freaked out her legislative colleagues, the HIV test has cost thousands of dollars but turned up only a handful of folks who'd been exposed to the deadly virus. Still, if you're going to marry here, you have to have the test, so check out South Chicago Community Hospital's $25 HIV test for newlyweds through September 30. To qualify for the low-cost test, couples and their doctors need to sign a form that's available by calling 978-7334. The hospital is at 2320 E. 93rd St. To make an appointment, call 978-2000, ext. 5139.

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