Cartoonist Peter Hannan scampers around in the fields of the absurd, grabbing grotesque fun where he finds it, everywhere from the offices of Freelance Fireman, Inc. ("I'm not here right now . . .") to Nanosecond City ("Good evening! Suggestions? How'd ya like it? Thank you very much!"). Hannan's Adventures of a Huge Mouth, viewable in the Reader, have recently been collected into a book entitled ditto and buyable at the new Barbara's Bookstore at 1800 N. Clybourn. Hannan will be there tonight to sign books and chat from 6 to 7:30. It's free. Call 664-1113 for information.
Sure music's charms can calm the savage breast, but it's also terrific for putting your parents' nerves on edge. Noise Annoys, says Club Lower Links, and tonight DJ Joe Bryl will create a sound survey of hundreds of years' worth of obnoxious, dissonant, and unpleasant music. Rock 'n' roll is only the latest and most efficient brand of it, of course: Stravinsky was a proud nerve grater as well. Bryl promises works by modern classicists like Harry Partch and John Cage, jazzers from Dizzy Gillespie to John Zorn, and rockers from Hasil Adkins to Lou Reed to Sonic Youth, and will also trot out dervish chants from Kurdistan and field recordings from Tuva in the Soviet Union. Sounds raucous. It's tonight at 11 at Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport (248-5238), and the cover's a dollar.
There's a new place to buy third-world books in the north-Bucktown, lower-Logan Square area; El Yunque Bookstore promises to stock Puerto Rican and other Latin American titles, and material on the third world generally. It's having a free open house today from 3 to 6, at 2665 W. Fullerton. Call 235-9901.
A three-day conference on the cultural heritage of the labor movement climaxes today with a big sing-along. The focus is on labor tunes, but you'll also hear poems and dramatic readings, notably from labor troubadour Joe Glazer, Canada's Arlene Mantel, and localites like Jim Tomasselo and Allan Schwartz. The conference is the third annual Midwest Labor Heritage and Song Exchange, taking place at the University of Illinois at Chicago all weekend. The whole affair costs $30, and for that you get workshops and talks on a slew of labor and cultural matters, plus you get to hang with members of the nearly 50 participating labor groups. The sing-along, however, is only $3; it starts at 8 PM at the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union meeting hall, 333 S. Ashland. Call 996-2623 for information.
Shirley and Willis Johnson spent half a million dollars restoring the Lake Theatre in Oak Park; their sensitive plexing job, which divided the former palace into four smaller screens, won a merit award from the Chicago Art Deco Society. The theater, designed for sound, was built in 1936 by architect Thomas Lamb; a tour of the restored Lake Theatre is being given today by the Theatre Historical Society of America. For $5 you'll see all four theaters, the building's restored neon lighting, and vintage films of live stage shows; your guide is society prez Joseph Duci Bella. Be at the theater, 1020 Lake in Oak Park, at 12:30 PM. You can call 252-7200 for more information.
Saul Bellow talks today on Religion and the Modern Quest; it's at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, at 2 PM. There's no charge; parking and even child care are available. Call 782-4780 for more information.
The Citizens Utility Board was formed to represent consumer interests in the state's regulation of Peoples Gas, Commonwealth Edison, and their ilk, the traditional state regulatory agencies having been less than enthusiastic about the chore over the years. The group's sixth annual meeting will include a rally and a raffle as well as rabble-rousing: on the agenda are some back-patting--for the $400 million refund and $235 million rate reduction won from Com Ed this year--and strategizing against newly requested hikes by both Com Ed and Peoples Gas. Things get under way at 2 PM at Alvernia Place, 3900 N. Lawndale. It's free. Call 263-4282 for information.
Guns Aren't Funny--but Second City Is! is the slogan for a gun-control fund-raising do tonight, courtesy of the Wells Street funsters ("Good evening! Suggestions? How'd ya like it? Thank you very much!"). The funds are for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence; a cash bar--with hors d'oeuvres--begins at 6:30; there'll be an award given to Father George Clements, of Holy Angels Church, at 7. Second City rocks the house at 7:30. Tix are $35, $50 for a couple. The council suggests reserving tickets early. The party's at Second City, 1616 N. Wells; call 341-0939 for more information.
There are talents, there are stars, there are geniuses, and then there are the immortals. Surely few would deny that Sherwood Schwartz belongs in the final category. Who's Sherwood Schwartz? Only the creator of two of the most pungent cultural experiences of the broadcasting era: Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch. Schwartz created, wrote, and produced the series, which succeeded financially and also burned themselves permanently into our collective consciousness; he speaks at Northwestern today before broadcasting students who are hard at work on their own sitcom. The free three-hour session, beginning at 7 PM, is in the Annie May Swift auditorium of the School of Speech, at 1905 Sheridan Road in Evanston. Call 708-491-3751 for more information.
Fresh from its centennial celebration over the past year, the Chicago Society of the Archeological Institute of America is presenting a lecture jointly with the Art Institute's Classical Art Society: Pytheos, Priene and Pergamon: Early Hellenistic Sculpture in Asia Minor focuses on a recounting of a famous 1868-'69 excavation of the Sanctuary of Athena Polias at Priene in what is now Turkey. The speaker is Joseph Coleman Carter, from the University of Texas at Austin, who'll talk about the sculpture and bas reliefs found, using some of the earliest photographs ever made of an excavation. It's at 5:30 in the Trustees' Dining Room of the Art Institute--use the Columbus Avenue entrance, at Columbus and Monroe. Call 443-3697 for more information. It's free.
Chicago Designs: Fashion, Photography, Architecture continues this week at the Public Library Cultural Center. More than 40 photographs make the show's argument through subject, setting, and artist for the vibrancy of Chicago design: each photograph combines notable fashion designs (by Becky Bisoulis, Mark Heister, Hino and Malee) set against architectural landmarks (the New Regal Theatre, the United Airlines Terminal) and shot by noted local photographers (Stan Malinowski, Ken Frantz, and a lot more). There's also a "videowall" by Miroslaw Rogala. It's free; the cultural center, at 79 E. Washington, is open from 9 AM to 7 PM Monday through Thursday, 9 to 6 Friday, and 9 to 5 Saturday. Call 346-3278 for more information.
John Adams called her "saucy"; Thomas Jefferson compared her to Venus; Harry Truman said she'd have made a better president than her husband. They were all talking about Abigail Adams, who's the subject of The Revolutionary Mrs. Adams, a one-woman show written and performed by Rebecca Bloomfield. It's free and goes on tonight only at the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln at 7. Call 728-8652 for details.
The story of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express involves a cross-country train race--think of it as The Little Engine That Could, only with lasers. Fifty tons of equipment, including nearly 12,000 lights, banked curves, and a 44-foot skating ramp that extends out into the seating area, are the centerpiece of the show, which has been billed as the most lavish stage presentation ever. (It's also known for having amassed a boffo BO--the highest one-week gross in Broadway history.) The show opens at 8 PM tonight, and runs through a 3 PM matinee Sunday, October 28. Tickets range from $30 to $44.50 tonight, with a $15 balcony ticket; except for the balcony, tickets are three bucks more on Friday and Saturday evening. It's at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; call 559-1212 for tickets.