Artist, performer, and NEA bete noire Karen Finley is preparing a monthlong residency in her hometown; her new show, We Keep Our Victims Ready, opens tonight and runs Fridays and Saturdays through October 27 at Beacon Street Gallery, 4520 N. Beacon. Deeply profane and profoundly angry, Finley has kept just about everyone on their toes with her searing commentary on love, sex, violence, women, and occasionally, growing up in Chicago. You can also see samples of Finley's visual art--paintings and drawings are up in the lobby for the run of the show, and a couple of sculptures are in a group show at the gallery through November 24. Tickets are $15, $12 for members, students, and seniors. The show starts at 8 PM both nights, and reservations are required; you can make them at 561-3500. Gallery hours are 10 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday.
The New Duncan Imperials are almost as profane as Karen Finley; the poppy country-punk trio's claims to fame include the Velour Sex Dance (with audience participation) and the antics of guitarist Pigtail Dick, who's been known to attempt a guitar solo using a bloody cow's head as a pick. The group has a new CD out, called Hanky Panky Parley Voo! A show tonight at Lounge Ax celebrates its release. Tickets are five bucks; things get under way around 10. Lounge Ax is at 2438 N. Lincoln; call 525-6620 for details.
Art-O-Rama practices the ultimate in trouve gallery meistering this month. The gallery, according to itself, "specializes in quirky theme shows and courageous artists tired of being pushed around and treated like sloppy second-class citizens." Its current affront involves work by artists and photographers who have in common only the fact that they fraternize at the Old Town Ale House. The show, which runs through October 21, encompasses 18 artists and more than 130 pieces; the gallery, at 3039 W. Irving Park, is open from noon to 8:30 Fridays and Saturdays, from noon to 5 Sundays, or by appointment; 588-1876. Admission is free.
If you happen to be friends with any of the CIA's high command, don't invite them and Philip Agee to the same party. The disaffected Agee scandalized the agency and the U.S. government with Inside the Company: CIA Diary, which detailed agency shenanigans in Africa, South America, and Vietnam. He's in town to speak tonight at a forum sponsored by the Pledge of Resistance, an anti-intervention-in-Central America outfit. It costs $5 and starts at 7 at the Illinois Room on the third floor of Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. Call the Pledge at 663-4399 for more information.
It seems like only yesterday, but it's actually been 119 years since Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked off the hottest night in Chicago history. You can commemorate the Great Chicago Fire at the Chicago Historical Society, which promises a special exhibit, a showing of In Old Chicago (with Don Ameche and Tyrone Power), and even an appearance by Mrs. O'Leary. The exhibit is open from 1 to 5 today; the movie shows at 2. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, and $1 for kids under 17. The museum's at North and Clark; call 642-4600 for more information.
Benson & Hedges Blues is the latest music festival sponsored by the makers of a well-known cancer-inducing agent that kills hundreds of thousands annually in the U.S. alone. Besides all sorts of blues performances around town, there's a lot of related bluesiana as well; among the more interesting is Blues & Gospel on Film, a program of rare footage today at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place. Promised are two films: Big City Blues, St. Clair Bourne's 1982 documentary on the Checkerboard Lounge, featuring performances by Son Seals and Billy Branch, and Singing Stream, a look at gospel in the life of a North Carolina family. It starts at 3 PM, and it's free with museum admission, which is $2 for adults, $1 for senior citizens, and 50 cents for children under 13. Call 947-0600 for more information.
Brian Dennehy is a big guy, and he's playing the lead in a big play, Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh. He'll talk about all of that and other big things in a lecture and discussion organized by Women in Film tonight at the Goodman Theatre, 220 S. Columbus. The Women have set aside 5:30 to 6:15 for networking; the program runs for an hour after that. Admission is $20, $10 for Women in Film members. Call 372-2376.
Mondays in October, the University of Chicago's Documentary Film Group focuses on Chicago-born Preston Sturges; tonight is a rare showing of The Power and the Glory, an early Sturges script that is often considered a precursor of Orson Welles's Citizen Kane because of its innovative use of flashback to tell the life story of an industrialist played by Spencer Tracy. The film is playing with Diamond Jim, another early Sturges script about an eccentric millionaire, this one played by Edward Arnold. Screenings are at the Palevsky Theatre on the first floor of Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th. Admission is $2; Diamond Jim plays at 7 PM, The Power and the Glory at 8:45 PM. Call 702-8575 for more information.
"In Canada," says Harley Hiller, a history professor at Western Washington University, "reality is regional." Hiller will explain himself tonight as he continues a six-week-long series of lectures and films, Canada: Our Neighbor in Crisis. Hiller's focus is on the severe constitutional split occasioned by Francophone Quebec's secessionist moves. Tonight, his program looks at Quebec with the film The Magic Circle. It starts at North Park College's Wallgren Library, 5130 N. Spaulding, at 7:30. Call 583-2700 for information; it's free.
Michael Niederman directed the documentary Presumed Guilty, a tough look at the story of Chicago doctor John Branion, who was accused and convicted--wrongly, say many, including Niederman--of murdering his wife. Niederman will speak at noon today at the Center for New Television as part of the center's informal lunchtime series in filmmaking and general media-making, Getting Into the Business. It's free to members, $2 for nonmembers. The center is at 912 S. Wabash; call 427-5446 for details.
Got those recurring-headache blues? Northwestern Hospital is offering a lecture tonight on The Resounding, Pounding Beat of Yet Another Headache. It's part of an ongoing series of talks on health issues for women, but this talk won't focus particularly on women. Neurologist Anne Remmes will talk about the effects of stress, allergies, and sinuses on headaches and how to reduce their frequency, at the hospital's first-floor auditorium at 301 E. Chicago. Things get under way at 5:30 with a wine and cheese reception; the lecture starts at 6. It's $5; call 908-7503 to register.
In The Passion of Dracula, KKT Productions' twist on the classic story, the vampire is looking for a bride. The show opens tonight at the Chicago Cooperative Stage, 2074 N. Leavitt, and runs through November 10. Show times are 8 PM Thursday through Saturday and 3 PM Sunday; there'll also be a performance at 8 PM on Halloween. Tickets are $10; half of all Thursday night ticket sales during upoming weeks are going to the Howard Brown Memorial Clinic, an AIDS service agency. Call 283-0289 for information and reservations.