"Every year when Christmas arrives, a grinchy ol' feeling wells up inside," sings Valerie Lewis in her new holiday carol, "Christmastime at the Mall." Lewis, who's been drawing crowds over at Boombala this fall, will perform her new carol as well as some old favorites at 8 and 10 tonight and tomorrow at the club, 2950 N. Lincoln. Admission is $7.50 plus a two-drink minimum. Call 871-2686.
Since moving to Washington, D.C., Jesse Jackson hasn't made many appearances at Operation PUSH, the spiritual home of much of Chicago's African American political movement. But he'll be back for a command performance and a Special Christmas Service today. With PUSH board member R. Eugene Pincham's candidacy for Cook County board president forcing Tim Evans and Gene Sawyer to talk unity, it'll be interesting to see who sits where in relation to Jackson--a lineup usually as instructive as the politburo's during the May Day parades. The service, which is free, starts at 9 AM at 930 E. 50th St. Call 373-3366.
Two years ago producer Rae Schiff was asked by the now-defunct Limelight to throw a little night-before-Christmas bash for Jews; she came up with the Oy Vay Alternative to Christmas Eve, which attracted about 1,000 revelers. The holiday extravaganza continues at the Cairo with its traditional fur fashion show (featuring trader R.J. Abrams and dirty dancers Richard and Phyllis Schwartz, among others), art exhibit (huge paintings by Montana Morrison, featuring her interpretations of Hollywood movies), and music by the Soul Invaders. There will also be a charity raffle to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, with tickets sold at $1 each. It all begins at 8:30 PM at the nightclub, 720 N. Wells. Admission is $5. Call 266-6620.
For Christian Latinos, Christmas Eve is far more important than Christmas Day, making midnight mass the most festive of all holiday services. At Saint Pius Church in the heart of Pilsen, the Spanish-language mass begins with the traditional posada, a welcome of Mary and Joseph, who'll be played by local actors in the opening procession. The church's choir will be augmented by guitars, piano, and an electric bass in a musical service. Everyone is welcome at the service, which begins promptly at midnight at 1919 S. Ashland. It's free, of course. Call 226-6161.
The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, plus dancers and jugglers, will do shows at 1:30 and 2:30 today at the Spertus Museum, 618 S. Michigan. The museum will open its doors at 11 AM and its Rosenbaum Artifact Center at 1:30. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for students, kids, and seniors. For more call 922-9012.
The Little Brothers--Friends of the Elderly will hold Christmas parties for hundreds of Chicago's elderly from 1 to 3 today at several locations around the city and in Evanston and Oak Park. LBFE will also deliver hot Christmas meals to those seniors who can't make it to the parties. But the group needs volunteer drivers to take people to and from the parties and especially to deliver nearly 900 meals. North-side meals will be delivered out of LBFE's offices at 1658 W. Belmont; south-side meals will go out of Hales Franciscan High School, 4930 S. Cottage Grove. Call 477-7702 to sign up.
What you see is exactly what you get at the Carl Hammer Gallery's current show, The Anonymous Artist: Captured Genius in the Found Object. Running through January 16, the exhibition presents work by anonymous 19th- and 20th-century artists. Since no one knows who did these works, what they were trying to say, or where they came from, all the usual questions about artistic intentions and outside influences are moot. Viewing is free from 10 to 6 Tuesday through Friday and 10 to 5:30 Saturday at 200 W. Superior. Call 266-8512.
Waves and Plagues: The Art of Masami Teraoka features three distinct bodies of work by the Japanese-born artist. The first is a series of seascapes inspired by the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where Teraoka has lived for many years. The "Hanauma Bay" series, with its snorkeling samurai and curious Japanese tourists, deals with assimilation and East-West conflicts. Teraoka's final series uses Kabuki-like scenes and long narratives to depict the AIDS crisis and its consequences. The show--in the exhibit hall at the Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington--runs through January 27. Viewing is free 9 to 7 Monday through Thursday, 9 to 6 Friday, and 9 to 5 Saturday. Call 346-3278.
Albert Einstein once said he used only about 10 percent of his brain. That's pretty good, given that the average person uses about 4 percent. But Jose Silva thinks we can all do better. Back in 1944 he came up with techniques to develop the mind and control stress. His program used to be called "Silva Mind Control"; the name has been softened to the "Silva Method." The Silva Method Basic Lecture Series will be taught in special sessions from 9 to 5 today through Saturday at the Oakbrook Holiday Inn, 17W350 22nd St. in Oakbrook Terrace. Admission is $500 for all four days, $450 if you pay in full in advance. There's a $50 minimum deposit--yes, they accept credit cards. Advance registration is required, so call 708-449-0404.
There will be calamities, maudlin melodramas, and mucho pathos at Cries & Whispers--A Tragedy Club, which seeks to reverse our town's love of comedy. Tonight's sorrowful lineup includes performance artists Lynn Book, Robert Metrick, Tony Tassett, Peter Taub, and wandering minstrel Kevin Henry, who thinks he's Leonard Cohen. The misery begins at 9 PM at Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport. Admission is $4. Call 248-5238.
December 19 Through January 4
There's no issue of the Reader next week; here are a few things to do in our absence.
Head backwards into the new year on the 31st with Thoughts for the End of the Decade, a night of performance art, film and video screenings, poetry readings, and whatever by local artists. Admission is free; food and beverages will be available. It starts at 9 PM at N.A.M.E. Gallery, 700 N. Carpenter (226-0671).
As long as you're into hindsight, check out The Best of Kraft Television, the first of a series of programs highlighting the Museum of Broadcast Communications collection. This week's program, which starts January 3, features specials with Perry Como and Andy Williams, and dramas with Rod Serling, Jack Klugman, and Lee Remick. The museum, at 800 S. Wells, is open noon to 5 Sunday and Wednesday through Friday, 10 to 5 Saturday. Admission is a suggested $3 for adults, $2 for students, $1 for seniors and kids. Call 987-1500 for specific programs and times.
William Butler Yeats loved Maude Gonne, an actress and passionate political activist, for more than 30 years. Their relationship is the subject of Maura, the first production of the Medicine Wheel Theatre Company, opening January 4 at the Rally Theatre, 5404 N. Clark. It runs through February 11. Show time is 8 PM Thursday through Saturday, and 2 PM Sunday. Tickets are $10, $8 for students and seniors. Call 275-0801.