John Edgar Wideman--the author of Brothers and Keepers, The Lynchers, Hurry Home, and Damballah, among others---has just published Fever, a collection of short stories about black American life. He will read from his new book, discuss it, and sign autographs today at 1 PM at the Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted, 413-5540; and at 7 PM at Guild Books, 2456 N. Lincoln, 525-3667. Tomorrow from noon to 2 he'll be at the African-American Book Center, 7524 S. Cottage Grove, 651-0700. All the readings are free; the book is $16.95.
About 20,000 survivors of both left- and right-wing torture now live in Chicago. Many get help at Uptown's Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture. Center director Dr. Antonio Martinez joins a Guatemalan torture survivor, representatives from Amnesty International, and others in tonight's free panel discussion on Torture Today: Where Do We stand?, which will feature presentations on the effects of political torture and its impact on millions of people around the world. It's at 8 PM at Saint Ignatius Church, 6559 N. Glenwood. Call 427-2060.
"I've got to be the first person ever to move to LA, then come back to Chicago for the winter," muses Aaron Freeman, creator of the famous "Council Wars" routine. Freeman is back in town for the debut of his new show, Do the White Thing, which is about two guys stuck on a street corner because neither one can get a cab. Directed by Nate Herman, it also features Rob Kolson, the "financial satirist" who most recently appeared with Freeman as point-counterpoint commentator on WFLD TV's evening news. The show plays at 9 PM Friday and Saturday at the Organic Lab Theater, 3319 N. Clark. Tickets are $8 for previews, which run through Sunday; $10 thereafter. Call 327-5588.
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, established in 1967, has become largely a domestic-advocacy group in the nearly 15 years since the war ended. An alarming percentage of the homeless are Viet vets, and soldiers who were exposed to Agent Orange are still seeking better treatment and greater compensation. When the group holds its Veterans Day for Peace and Justice rally today, it'll take on national vet issues, but it'll also call on the U.S. to stay out of Central America and the Philippines. The rally's at 11 AM at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fountain at Wacker Drive and Wabash. It's free. Call 327-5756.
Nelson Algren had a passionate affair with Simone de Beauvoir and wound up as a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters. But the affair ended badly, and the academy only recognized him after he had pretty much given up writing. Death didn't protect him from indignities; when his tombstone arrived at his grave site in Sag Harbor, New York, his name was misspelled. Bettina Draw, a graduate student doing research on radical American writers, found Algren by accident. But after reading one page of his writing, she was hooked. Nelson Algren: A Life on the Wild Side, the first biography of Algren, is her testimony to one of Chicago's most celebrated and cursed native sons. She will sign copies, which sell for $27.95 each, from 3 to 5 today at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. Call 684-1300.
The Daley administration has proven particularly adept at style, but it still lacks substance when it comes to dealing with the AIDS crisis. It recently completed a comprehensive AIDS plan, but refused to increase the budget to pay for the fight and dug in its heels about its roundly criticized AIDS education ad campaign. Yet Mayor Daley goes in for appearances tonight by serving as the local honorary chairman of the star-studded Heart Strings: The National Tour. The tour, which hopes to raise more than $4 million for the kinds of services Daley's administration won't fund, features Sandy Duncan, Jason Bateman, Bill Cobbs, Valerie Wellington, and both of the city's gay-men's choruses. It starts at 6 at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Tickets are $25, $75, and $150. Call 642-5454.
Ever since the Harold Washington portrait fiasco, the School of the Art Institute has been busy trying to be sensitive to its multicultural constituency. It formed a minority affairs task force, hired a multicultural liaison, and organized "Affirmative Actions: Recognizing a Cross-Cultural Practice in Contemporary Art," a yearlong lecture series by artists from various ethnic backgrounds. Tonight's installment features Cuban American painter Luis Cruz Azaceta at 7 in the school's auditorium, Columbus Drive at Jackson. Admission is $3, free for seniors and students and staff of area colleges. Call 443-3711.
Last year a total of 35,489 pounds of canned and packaged food, as well as $15,000, was raised by a group of chiropractors who organized Doctors Feed the Hungry. This year the doctors have set goals of 75,000 pounds and $20,000, all of it going to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. You can help by lugging your donations over to the Rosenthal Chiropractic Clinic in suite 1560 at 122 S. Michigan between 11 and 6 today. While you're there, you can get a complete stress and structure examination in exchange for your donation. Call 939-4121 for a list of other participating chiropractic offices.
For years the intersection of Broadway and Belmont has seemed to attract an unusual number of lost and confused young people. Every year Teen Living Programs, which is housed on that busy corner, helps more than 3,500 kids who live on the streets. They are offered outreach programs ranging from emergency shelter to independent-living classes. The group, formerly Transitional Living Programs, hosts an open house in its newly remodeled facilities at 3179 N. Broadway from 4 to 8 today. Jim Edgar, State Representative John Cullerton, and Alderman Bernie Hansen will be present. It's free. Call 883-0025.
Some kids who don't make it to TLP wind up at the Juvenile Court of Cook County. There they have to depend on overbooked and overworked probation officers for attention and direction. Many of these officers use their personal resources to fund the kinds of educational, social, and cultural activities these kids need but wouldn't otherwise get. Freedom to Be, the kick-off fund-raiser for the Harold E. Marx Memorial Fund, hopes to raise money for ongoing programs for these kids. It starts at 6 at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, 350 N. Orleans; tickets are $35, $25 in advance, and include a buffet dinner, cash bar, and dancing to the music of Audio West. Call 935-3895.
The first circular mailed out to raise funds for the Carmelite nuns at Auschwitz said they would not only pray for the souls of the Holocaust victims, but for the conversion of the Jews. Then the nuns went out and planted a huge cross on the concentration-camp lawn--a grassy field fertilized by the ashes of thousands of Jews killed in the camp's ovens. Understandably, Jews were outraged. Inexplicably, the nuns and the cross are still there. Symbols and Issues: The Impact of the Holocaust on Recent Catholic-Jewish Relations, a talk by Dr. Harry James Cargas, will consider issues that concern the two religious communities. Cargas, a professor of humanities at Webster University in Saint Louis and a Catholic authority on the Holocaust, will begin his lecture at 4 PM in room 220 at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan. Sponsored by the Holocaust Memorial Foundation, the lecture is free. Call 677-4640.
Leon Golub's gigantic canvases are condemnatory narrative portraits of torturers, death-squad goons, and their victims. Golub, who is active in many political causes, will be honored tonight by the Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights. Also honored will be Lucy Montgomery, a civil rights activist who worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panthers, and the campaigns to elect Harold Washington. The gala starts with a 6 PM cash bar, followed by dinner at 6:45 and honors at 7:45. It's at the Great Hall of the Congress Hotel, 520 S. Michigan. Tickets are $50. Call 939-0675.