Karen Finley's performances are discomforting and jarring releases in which she trashes objectification and cruelty in just about everything, from advertising to chance encounters to relationships. Her work has heretofore been the province of nightclubs. Now furious monologues like "The Constant State of Desire" and "We Keep Our Victims Ready" are written down, in her new book Shock Treatment. Finley will read from it tonight at 7:30 at Barbara's Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells. It's free. Call 642-5044 for info.
"40 tancerzy, pelnych mlodzienczego zapalu." That's Polish for "40 dancers, full of youthful vitality." The 25th anniversary season of the Lechici Dancers, who bill themselves as Chicago's best Polish folk dance group, continues with a performance tonight at the Made in Poland Entertainment Center, 3336 N. Milwaukee. They call it a "night of chance, frivolity, dance, and romance"--in celebration of Saint Andrew's Day, which marks the beginning of Advent. Things begin at 8; admission is $5. Call 478-7136.
The longest bicycle in the world, made a few years back by a bunch of enterprising Marquette University engineering students, is 97 feet long, weighs five tons, and handles 36 riders. For the second year in a row, the bike is one of the centerpieces of the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities Christmas Parade today along Michigan Avenue. Also featured will be the Shriners' "Big Wheels" bicycle corps, all riding those fin de siecle models with the huge front wheel and tiny back wheel. The parade starts at noon and goes until 2, running up Michigan from Balbo to Wacker. Call 880-0433.
It's a joint strum-a-thon and garage sale at the Old Town School of Folk Music tonight; the occasion is a fund-raiser for the two-year-old Resource Center, the school's expanding archive of materials and information on folk culture. The strum-a-thon is a pledge deal--performers come with monetary pledges for each hour of strumming they do. The sale offers records, books, sheet music, and so forth. Admission to both events is free, and they both run 7:30 to midnight. The school is at 909 W. Armitage; call 525-7793.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back out on the dance floor, a small disco in Manchester, England, came along and turned the dance world on its head. Over the past few years the "Manchester sound" has given us the corrosive, psychedelic dance rock of the Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses, the Charlatans UK, and Inspiral Carpets; and suddenly that small disco, the Hacienda, is the most important dance club in the world. Two of the Hacienda's best-known DJs, Mike Pickering and Jon Da Silva, along with the club's director of artistic activities, Paul Cons, are in town as part of the club's United States of the Hacienda tour. Tonight they'll be at Smart Bar playing some hot new tracks and giving Chicago a taste of what the Hacienda's all about. Suggested dress: very loose shirts and baggy bell-bottoms, both a la Manchester. The evening starts at 8 and goes until 5 in the morning. The $8 admission will also get you in to see the Way Moves, upstairs at Cabaret Metro. Smart Bar is at 3730 N. Clark. Call 549-0203.
Among the little-known side effects of LSD are--or were, rather--baldness and an enthusiastic interest in cannibalism. Or so Blue Sunshine, a 1978 exploitation film, would have us believe. "The question we are faced with in this film is twofold," writes Psychotronic Film Society capo Michael Flores. "Is this simply a hippie warning film, or is it really a commentary on what the hippies became?" You can decide for yourself at the society's presentation of it, on video screens, at Crash Palace, 2771 N. Lincoln. Also on the bill are government-made antidrug films from the 1940s and '50s. The shorts begin at 6:30 PM, the film at 7. Admission is $2.50; call 738-0985 for details.
Spoon River Anthology: Revisited is a new dramatic adaptation of the Edgar Lee Masters classic by Fred Anzevino, who previously wrote and directed Dance Against Darkness: Living With AIDS. It opens tonight, the first offering of the Monday Night Performing Arts Series at the School Street Cafe, an annex of Sheffield's bar, 3258 N. Sheffield. It's $6, and starts at 8 PM. Call 338-2021.
In Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack, the ever tasteful and elegant Torso Theatre promises "the cataclysmic ejection of nearly every vital bodily fluid known to mankind, a holographic stripper, an ex-Nazi cryo-gynecologist, god complexes galore, a tastefully artistic depiction of artificial insemination, . . . no Elvis jokes, two big guns, an exploding person, and the only-ever staged incident of actual double-patty hamburger coitus!" The theatrical farce opens tonight with a price of $9.98; preview nights (which end Sunday 25) have weird admission prices that vary from bottles of Palmolive liquid to cans of tomato paste. Hmmm. Call the thater for details at 549-3330. Torso Theatre is at 2827 N. Broadway. Tonight's show starts at 7; then the show runs Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 7.
Coop Himmelblau is considered one of the most innovative architecture firms in the world; most recently, the Vienna- and LA-based company won an international competition to design La Ville Nouvelle de Melun-Senart, a satellite city planned for the outskirts of Paris. The firm is known for its philosophy of "open architecture," which the Architecture Society of the Art Institute describes as exploring "the boundaries between art and architecture, indoors and outdoors, and decision by choice versus the unconscious." Austrian architect Wolf D. Prix, one of the firm's founders, speaks tonight on its work; he'll concentrate on a new development in Vienna, the city's first high rise, a 40-story "hybrid" that will include offices, apartments, a hotel, a recreation area, galleries, a small theater, and a cinema. The presentation begins with a cocktail reception at 5:30 at the Hyatt Suites Hotel, 676 N. Michigan; Prix speaks at 6. It's $10 for members of the Architecture Society, $15 for nonmembers, $5 for students. Call 443-3949 for information.
Larry Jensen was a writer and DJ around town who contributed pieces to Chicago Music Magazine, spun records at Smart Bar and Avalon, did a cable-TV music show, Out and About, and generally helped support local bands. He died last month after suffering a stroke; a memorial benefit, to be emceed by Cabaret Metro owner Joe Shanahan, will be held tonight at the Avalon Niteclub, 959 W. Belmont. Localites Deep Blue Dream and Maybe/Definitely will be playing. The music starts at 8:30; admission is $10. The proceeds will go toward Jensen's hospital bills. Call 477-4802 for more information.
The Freedom of Information Act is one of those laws that you'd think shouldn't have to be enacted in the first place and is honored more in the breach than the observance in any case, as any number of reporters can tell you. On the other hand, sometimes it works--as the panelists of tonight's program, How I Got That Story Using FOI, will attest. The Sun-Times's Tom Brune, Mark Hornung from Crain's Chicago Business, and WMAQ's Dick Kay will talk about how the act has helped them at a Chicago Headline Club meeting at the IBM building, 330 N. Wabash, second floor. Also on hand will be Headline Club lawyer Jon Duncan and moderator Steve Rynkiewicz of the Sun-Times. Avail yourself of the hors d'oeuvres and the cash bar at 6; the program starts at 7. It's $5 for Headline Club members, $3 for students, $6 for others. Call Rynkiewicz at 321-2136 for details.