Amnesty International has started a letter-writing campaign on behalf of several Chinese who were arrested after the pro-democracy demonstrations and are in danger of being executed. Free materials for those who want to write letters on their behalf will be available at today's silent vigil, which begins at 2:30 outside the Chinese consulate, 104 S. Michigan. Other vigils will be held at the same time in Federal Plaza, Jackson at Dearborn, and outside the consulates of Yugoslavia, Chile, South Africa, and Turkey to protest human-rights violations in those countries. For more information call 427-2060.
The Akasha Dance Company is small, modern, barefoot, and fun to watch. This weekend's concerts will include performances of Seven Deadly Sweets, a newly commissioned piece by choreographer-about-town Timothy O'Slynne and composer Michael Kirkpatrick. Show time is 8 tonight and tomorrow at MoMing Dance & Arts Center, 1034 W. Barry. Friday tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors. Saturday's concert is a benefit for the company; tickets are $25 and include admission to a postperformance picnic with music, food, and drinks. Call 327-9797.
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center in West Town is best known for its alternative high school, which graduates more students--85 percent--than many public schools. But the center has a lot more to offer--a day-care center for preschoolers, an adult-education program that includes child-care services for students who are also parents, the largest private Puerto Rican library in the country, and a cultural program that includes music, poetry, and drama. The PROC runs exclusively on individual contributions and community support, so fund-raisers are imperative. It's hoped that tonight's Bowl-a-Rama will raise $5,000 for building maintenance. There will be plenty of free pizza and rock 'n' roll beginning at 7 at the New Monte Cristo Bowl, 3228 W. Montrose. It's $6 to play. Call 342-8023 for details.
Mayor Daley will make a little bit of history when he becomes the first sitting mayor to join the Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, which should draw even larger crowds than last year's estimated 75,000. Eugene Sawyer copped out at the very last possible second last year, but 48th Ward committeewoman and mayoral pal Kathy Osterman swears Rich will keep his date. The parade steps off at 2 PM from the corner of Halsted and Grace streets, then goes down Broadway to Diversey. The traditional rally with music and speeches is scheduled immediately after the parade in Lincoln Park, at 2600 N. Stockton. It's all free. Call 348-8243 for more.
The first American known to join the Baha'i religion was a Chicago insurance salesman named Thorton Chase, who heard a presentation about it at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Although it never swept the U.S., the Baha'i faith--which preaches the oneness of God, humanity, and religions--has devotees in more than 350 countries. In the Chicago area, followers gather at the Baha'i House of Worship at 110 Linden in Wilmette, where a series of free lectures concludes today at 3:30 with Jeffrey Mondschein's talk, Spiritual Solutions to Economic Problems. For more call 273-3838.
There might not have been an Operation PUSH, or a Rainbow Coalition, or even a black mayor if Mayor Richard J. Daley had taken in Jesse Jackson when he first came from South Carolina--instead of dismissing him with the usual "we don't hire nobody nobody doesn't know" bit. Jackson, who is now being pushed to run for mayor of Washington, D.C., by such unlikely supporters as Senator Alan Dixon, will be in town long enough to kick off the 18th annual National Convention of Operation PUSH, which focuses on education and economic investment, and runs through Wednesday at the Sheraton International Hotel, 6810 Mannheim in Rosemont. Admission is $45 a day. The confabulation begins tonight with a gospel concert featuring Aretha Franklin and the People's Mass Choir at 6 at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Tickets for the concert are $15, $25, and $50. Call 373-3366.
When On Our Backs, a sexually explicit lesbian magazine, made its debut a few years back, some women's bookstores (none in Chicago) were so appalled they refused to carry it. But the magazine not only survived, it's thriving. The rag's lesbian editors don't blush at its being called pornographic; rather they embrace the idea. This magazine will certainly come up in tonight's Porn or Erotica?, a women-only panel discussion at 7:30 at Kinheart, 2214 Ridge in Evanston. Admission is $5, $3 for members and donors, and $2 for students and those with incomes under $10,000. For more information call 491-1103.
One of our town's greatest jazz pianists says good-bye tonight with a special club appearance. Seventy-six-year-old Rozelle Claxton--who has played with the likes of Pearl Bailey and Billie Holiday, and who supposedly taught George Rhodes how to play piano and Charlie Parker how to run those incredible changes--is taking off for Memphis after a 50-year career in Chicago. The music starts at 8 PM at Dick's Last Resort, 435 E. Illinois. There's no cover and no minimum. Call 836-7870.
"Each boxing match is a story, a highly condensed, highly dramatic story--even when nothing much happens, then failure is the story," wrote Joyce Carol Oates about boxing, an obsession she doesn't even consider a sport. Young fighters will be out in force at today's senior open and novice division boxing tournament, sponsored by the Chicago Park District. This year there'll be three categories for those aged 16 to 25, depending on their experience. Registration, medicals, and weigh-ins start at 4 PM today and tomorrow; bouts begin at 8 both nights. Everything takes place at Whitney Young High School, 210 S. Loomis. It's free to participate; $1 to watch for adults, 50 cents for school-age kids. Call 294-2317 or 267-1548.
Monkeys, the critically acclaimed first novel by Susan Minot, started out as a series of short stories that began to overlap. Her new book, Lust & Other Stories, is a return to short fiction for Minot, whose crisp minimalist style is filled with poignancy and pain. She'll read from her work at 7:30 tonight at Women & Children First, 1967 N. Halsted. It's free. Call 440-8824.
The Chicago Access Corporation, which was created to guarantee citizen involvement in cable TV, currently administers six public-access channels, trains citizens in the use of TV equipment, and produces educational programs, such as today's Trusting Freedom: Media and the First Amendment. Featuring a panel of ten journalists, lawyers, and other mediaphiles, the forum hopes to increase awareness of our rights and responsibilities under the First Amendment. It starts at 5 PM at CAC, 322 S. Green. Tickets are $25, $20 for CAC members. Call 738-1400.
Robbie Klein--who lost oodles of bucks, art, and personal items in the SuHu fire--is already so at home in her new digs at the Merchandise Mart that she's doing benefits for others. More than 100 ties that were hand-decorated by Michael Jordan, Mike Ditka, Mayor Daley, and Oprah Winfrey, among others, will be featured at tonight's silent Celebrity Tie Auction, All proceeds go to the 13 local Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago. It starts at 6 PM at the new Klein Gallery, on the first floor of the Mart, Orleans at the river. Tickets are $5O. Call 648-1666.