The colorful, intricate lithographs on the outside of coffee or harness-oil cans were once the deciding factors when consumers chose one brand over another. More than 15,O00 of these tins, signs, and other advertising paraphernalia dating back to the late 1800s will be traded and sold during the 13th annual National Kanvention today and tomorrow at the O'Hare Des Plaines Inn, 750 S. Elmhurst Road in Des Plaines. The doors are open 9 to 5 today, 9 to 12 Saturday; admission is free. For more, call 332-5790.
That Chicago is the largest nuclear-weapon-free zone in the country is another testament to Harold Washington. It was his support and charisma that pushed through the City Council the ordinance that drew a line at the city limits and also declared an annual Nuclear Weapon Free Zone commemoration Day. Today's ceremony, which begins at 4:30 in Daley Plaza at the corner of Washington and Dearborn, features a variety of performers, as well as a long list of politicos. Look for Acting Mayor Sawyer to mumble his way through the annual report on the city's compliance with the antinuke law. It's a free show. For more information, call 899-1800.
It's praised everywhere as the quintessential Polish dance, but the polka is really Czech in origin. During the 1800s, when the polka became popular, Poles were dancing the mazurka. You can argue the point, or you can have some fun today when the International Polka Festival kicks off with 14 of the best polka bands in the land, including Grammy winners Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones and Lenny Gomulka's Chicago Push. The three-day extravaganza takes place at the Ramada Hotel O'Hare, Mannheim and Higgins in Rosemont, starting at 5:30 today and tomorrow, and at 12:30 PM on Sunday. Tickets are $8 a day or $20 for the weekend. Kids under 12 are free when accompanied by a parent. Call 254-7771 for more.
Since 1967, Third World Press on the city's south side has been publishing the stirrings of the African-American heart, including two now-classic volumes by the state's poet laureate, Gwendolyn Brooks: The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves and To Disembark. This fall, TWP will publish So Far, So Good--new poetry by writer-musician Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron headlines tonight's benefit celebrating TWP's 21st anniversary. The show starts at 8 at the Robinson Center, Chicago State University, 9501 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Tickets are $15 at the door, $13 in advance. For more information, call 651-0700.
Cari-Jama, a day-long carnival celebrating Jamaica's independence, will mix together island food, crafts, raffles, music, a beauty pageant, and special appearances by Illinois appellate court justice R. Eugene Pincham, Operation PUSH's Reverend Willie Barrow, and Jamaican consul Dolphy T. McLaughlin. The festival starts at 1 PM at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren. Tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for children under 12. For more, call 957-1266.
You can indulge in jazz for free for two days at the South Shore Country Club's Jazzfest, which features national and local acts such as Ray Brown, Kenny Burrell, Gloria Lynne, Ernie Andrews, Eddie de Haas, C of Dreams, Malachi Thompson's Free-Bop Band, and many others. The fun runs from 2 to 7:30 today and tomorrow at 71st and South Shore Drive in the country club. Call 667-2707 for more information.
In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, Hair opened on Broadway, thousands joined the Poor People's March on Washington, Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia, Mayor Daley's thugs ignited a riot, Richard Nixon was elected, and the Beatles' White Album was released. While the World Watched is a recreation of that year through the eyes of 36 artists at the Prairie Street Gallery, 1900 S. Prairie. The show opens today with a reception from 1 to 5. Call 842-4523 for details.
There's no reason to get bloated before having a kid and no reason to sag afterward if you sign up for the prenatal postpartum exercise programs at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center, 836 W. Wellington. Prenatal classes run Mondays from 7 to 8, and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7. The spotlight is on muscle tone, body mechanics, and relaxation. Postpartum classes run Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from noon to 1. It's $4.25 per class or $32 for eight sessions. Call 975-1600, ext. 6133, if you have any questions.
This is the kind of workshop Michael Douglas needed in Fatal Attraction. Getting out of destructive relationships is a one-evening seminar on identifying poor choices, ending bad relationships without bodily harm, and learning to like nice people. Sponsored by the consultation and education services of the Ravenswood Community Mental Health Center, the workshop will be held in room 8210 of the hospital's medical center, 4550 N. Winchester at 7:30. It's $3, $2 for seniors and students. Call 878-4300, ext. 1455, for more.
Peter Gatien's Limelight in Chicago has never been able to pick its customers the way the New York original does, with bouncers determining who from the mighty throngs outside its doors is hip enough to enter; we don't put up with that kind of snottiness in Chicago. Gatien celebrates his third anniversary in real Chicago style tonight with Stanley Paul and his 12-piece orchestra and with the Buddy Guy Blues Band. The good stuff starts at 9 at 632 N. Dearborn. Tickets are $5 at the door; free if you get them ahead of time by calling 337-2985.
Tito Puente is the king of the timbales, the heartbeat of all Latin dance music. Puerto Rican-born Puente, however, is no barrio boy who mindlessly banged his way to the top of the beat heap. He's a graduate of Juilliard as well as of the streets, and he's played with everybody from Celia Cruz to Machito's Orchestra. He's headlining tonight through August 14 at the Moulin Rouge, 200 N. Columbus. He'll play Tuesday through Thursday and on Sunday at 9:30 ($22), Friday and Saturday at 9 and 11 ($25). For more, call 565-7440.
If you think you're svelte enough, tall enough, cool enough, and daring enough, try the meat-rack approach to breaking into modeling. Elite Model Management and the John Casablancas Modeling and Career Center go on a model search tonight at 10 at Mother's, 26 W. Division. Bring your swimsuit to participate. Finalists from tonight and from the August 17 and 24 contests will compete for grand prizes--including $1,000, a complete make-over, and six-month memberships to the Combined Fitness Center--on August 31. Good luck. There's no cover. For more, call 642-8000.
Twenty years ago Bernadine Dohrn struck terror into the hearts of the city fathers: she served as secretary of Students for a Democratic Society, as a leader during the Chicago Days of Rage, and later as a leader of the Weather Underground. And after a brutal Charlie Manson family murder she said, "Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room--far out!" Now a lawyer with Sidley & Austin, she'll be reminiscing about the good ol' days at the Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, beginning at 12:15 PM. It's free. For more, call 269-2830.
In 1889, the Chicago River was lined with lumberyards, grain elevators, slaughterhouses, and factories instead of office buildings. You can walk the river from its mouth to Wolf Point and learn about its past and future by joining the Friends of the Chicago River on an hour-long guided tour. Meet at Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan, at 5:30. It's free. Call 939-0490 for more.