If you're a good leftist--a Woody Guthrie fan, an unreconstructed Stalinist, a mainstream Marxist, or just a well-meaning Sandinista sympathizer--tonight there's something just for you! Guthrie-ites can meet rock critic Dave Marsh, coeditor of Pastures of Plenty: Writings of an American Folk Hero, a collection of Guthrie's writings. He appears at Guild Books, 2456 N. Lincoln, at 7 PM. It's free. Call 525-3667 for details.
For the Stalinists, there's Albanian Journey, a film by Jay Paul, presented tonight by the Chicago Albania Friendship Committee. "Over 30 years ago, Albania criticized the path taken by the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies, predicting that it would lead to capitalism," says the press release in an I-told-you-so tone. You can celebrate Albania's ongoing atavism at the Independence Park field house, 3945 N. Springfield, tonight at 7. More info at 283-1906.
If Albania's take on socialism is a little too hard-line, there's always Revolution Books, which, among other things, sells T-shirts with slogans like Mao More Than Ever! The store's currently at 3449 N. Sheffield, but it's raising money to move down to Belmont; thus the fund-raiser tonight at Ann Sather, 929 W. Belmont. There'll be poets, music, food, and a "poor people's auction." It's $5; things get under way at 8 PM. Call 528-5353 for more information.
And finally, for those who want to keep an eye on the travails of Nicaragua's now-deposed Sandinistas, there's another film, this one a 45-minute documentary by Chicagoan Bob Hercules. Did They Buy It?: Nicaragua's 1990 Elections is a look at the recent vote through the eyes of U.S. journalists covering the story. The movie premieres tonight at the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union Hall, 333 S. Ashland. It's $5, and starts at 8 PM. Call 850-1300 for details.
After last night, you're sick of politics: tonight you want to dance. For the traditional-minded, there's the International Polka Association's pre-holiday dance at IPA world HQ at 4145 S. Kedzie. Doors open at 8:30 PM; music, by Jerry Zahara and the Happy Stars, begins at 9. Tickets are $3 beforehand, $4 at the door; for advance tickets or information you can call 254-7771.
Polka not your bag? How about disco? Try 70's Saturday, billed as "a monthly rehash of the Me Decade." Half revue, half celebration, tonight's show features a special appearance by (minor) "disco diva" Linda Clifford and disco choreographers Cissy and Marcus, who'll be instructing the crowd in the niceties of the Hustle and the Bus Stop. It's appropriately set at Park West, home of what is alleged to be the largest mirror ball in Chicago. Park West is at 322 W. Armitage; doors open at 10 PM; it's $10; call 929-5959 for information.
Mrs. Loyal Davis inflicted her daughter, Nancy Reagan, on America; perhaps to make up for it, she also founded Chicago's Sarah Siddons Society, devoted to "elevating the role of women in the theater." The group's annual society gala is tonight, with the 1990 Sarah Siddons Award going to Ellen Burstyn, seen most recently in Chicago in Shirley Valentine. Also to be feted is Steppenwolf vet and Roseanne costar Laurie Metcalf. The black-tie event is $125 a ticket, $75 for those under 35; cocktails and dancing start at 6:30 and dinner at 8 at the Ambassador West Guildhall, 1300 N. State. Call 664-3542.
Shake and bake: It's a dinner seminar on the midwest's preparedness for a potential Great Quake. Wackos are predicting a big rumble along the New Madrid Fault today; scarily, research by actual scientists suggests that the odds in favor of such an event are much higher than was previously thought. Governor Thompson requested a report on what Illinois would do in the event of a quake; three of those involved in putting together the report will be speaking tonight, in a presentation by the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois. Dinner is at 6; the presentation begins at 7, and music by Johnny Rumble and the Richter Scales follows. (Just joking; there's no music.) It's $18, $9 for students with ID. At the Como Inn, 546 N. Milwaukee. Call 751-3144 for details.
In 1962 the Shanghai Publishing House asked Lucy Chen to undertake a translation into Chinese of Leaves of Grass. Events, in the form of the Cultural Revolution, interfered, but she was finally allowed to begin in 1978. Chen, a recently retired English professor at Beijing University, got her master's and PhD from the University of Chicago in the 40s and did much of her recent Whitman research there as well. Her version marks the first time a single person has translated Whitman's work into Chinese--the sole previous edition was done by two people working many years apart. Chen will discuss her work today in room 103 of the university's Harper Library, 1116 E. 59th, at 4 PM. It's free; details at 702-8536.
"I took my baby to my mother-in-law's condo pool. I bathed her feet. Her diaper accidently touched the water. The residents of the pool . . . turned into an angry mob. My in-laws lost their pool privileges." Terry Spencer Hesser has written journalism (for Chicago magazine and the Trib), jokes (for Joan Rivers), children's books (nine of them), and movies. Her newest, a video titled Prisoners of Condominiums, she calls an interpretation of "the twisted personal enjoyment people get out of their desire to cage others." It's showing at Cafe Tete-a-Tete, 750 N. Orleans. The cafe opens at 6:30; the film, on the restaurant's video screens, begins at 8. It's $5. Call 649-9343.
Guitarist Hiram Bullock plays with David Sanborn--you could have seen him weekly on Sanborn's now-silenced Night Music, the daring late-night TV show. He's also a passable blues-soul stylist on his own; with his touring band, he pulls off nice, textured evenings. He plays tonight at 8 at the Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison. Tickets are $10. Call 327-1662.
David Axelrod used to write political columns for the Tribune; he left to get Paul Simon elected to the Senate and became a powerful and successful political consultant, most recently helping to elect both Mayor Daley and county board president Richard Phelan. He'll be the guest of IMPACT--the gay and lesbian PAC--at its monthly breakfast forum this morning. It's upstairs at Ann Sather, 929 W. Belmont; continental breakfast starts at 7:30. It's $10. Call 880-2308 for more information.
Politics for breakfast, politics for lunch: What the heck the city's going to do with the "River Mouth" area--Navy Pier and parts south, where the Chicago River hits the lake --is the subject of the Friends of Downtown's free brown-bag luncheon today. Planners from the city and the Park District, a flack from McPier, and Streeterville residents will all be there at noon to talk out details. It's at the fourth-floor meeting room of the Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 977-0098 for more information.
No agenda! No ticket price! No committee reports! That's how the midwest office of Amnesty International is billing its holiday open house. It's at the organization's offices, 53 W. Jackson, suite 1162, tonight from 5:30 to 7:30. Call 427-2060.