And let us praise all these / As they please us: skin, flesh, flower, and the flowering / Bones of their seeds: from which come orchards: bees: honey: / Flowers, love's language, love, heart's ease, poems, praise. Poet Thomas McGrath, whose lines these are, died last September at 74. His family and friends, along with the literary magazines TriQuarterly and Poetry East and a few other groups, are holding a memorial evening of "reminiscence, readings and comment" tonight at the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union Hall, 333 S. Ashland, at 8. It's free. Call 708-491-7614 for details.
Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, probably South Africa's biggest pop group, is actually a conglomeration of artists: the great baritone Mahlathini, the famous vocal trio Mahotella Queens, and the Makgona Tsohole Band, credited with helping create the vastly influential "Soweto Sound," the musical foundation of Paul Simon's Graceland. They play at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage, tonight at 8. Tickets are $10-$17.50. Call 525-7793 for details.
Fans of P.G. Wodehouse will remember Bertie Wooster's fascination with felines: "It wasn't my fault, Jeeves," he might expostulate to his valet. "It was a, a, a whatyoumaycallit of circumstances." "Excuse me, Sir?" "You know the word, Jeeves. Cats enter into it." "A concatenation of circumstances, Sir?" "That's it!" Cats also enter into the Cats Chicago Charity Cat Show today and tomorrow at the Chicago South Expo Center, 17040 S. Halsted in Harvey. Look for more than 500 cats--pedigreed and household--representing 20 breeds; the 1990 Cat of the Year, a black Persian named Katrina's Postmarque of Katra, owned by Carolyn Henry of Springfield; lots of demonstrations and cat stuff to buy; and 18 cat breeders to answer questions. Things get under way at 10 and go to 5; tomorrow it's open 9 to 4. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for children under 12. Call 708-652-1865.
The North Park Village Nature Center's tenth annual Maple Syrup Festival--a chance to see maple trees tapped for their sap, and watch the sap be boiled down into the precious syrup--is next Sunday, March 24. Meanwhile, the center is looking for festival volunteers to train. A class on syrup basics runs from 11 to 2 today at the center, 5801 N. Pulaski; on the agenda are how to identify maple trees and correct tapping and boiling-down procedures. It's free, but reservations are requested; call 583-8970.
It's the ides of March, so Julius Caesar is naturally on a lot of people's minds. Tonight, for example, an aggregation called the Italian American Club is doing The Exquisite Corpse of Julius Caesar, in which six directors use everything from video to puppets to depict six key episodes in Julius's life. (The kicker is that none of the six knows what any of the others are doing.) The performance is part of an evening Club Lower Links is calling "Cries & Whispers . . . A Tragedy Club." Also on the program: films by Maria Benfield and Allen Ross, "stand-up tragedy" by Dani K. and Cheryl Bailey, and music from Bridget Becker, Matthew Owens, Tatsu Aoki, and Steven Baun. It starts at 9 at Lower Links, 954 W. Newport. Cover is $6; call 248-5238.
The Greater Bethesda Baptist Church--"the church with a program for the people," hosts special guest Douglas Wilder, governor of Virginia, today. Wilder is the nation's first elected black governor; he's also the featured "Men's Day" speaker at the church's 11 AM service. It's at 5301 S. Michigan. Free; call 373-3188 for more information.
Original wanted posters for John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson, books like Jake Lingle ("the story of a newspaperman who got too close to Capone"), first-edition copies of The Jungle and Chicago: City on the Make, and a photo book of interiors at the Palmer Mansion are all part of a 111-item auction today at Chicago Historical Bookworks in Evanston. The posters, dating from the early 30s, also feature molls Pearl Elliott and Mary Kinder and gangsters Basil "The Owl" Banghart and Murray "The Camel" Humphreys; a complete catalog of the posters and the other items is available at the store, 831 Main in Evanston, for $2. Things get under way there at 1. It's free to attend. Call 708-869-6410.
If wine and cheese and gourmet buffets aren't your style, try the Lakeview Pantry's annual Saint Joseph's buffet at Leona's restaurant, 3215 N. Sheffield. For 20 years the pantry has been providing emergency food to a variety of down-and-outers; tonight's dinner is a fund-raiser. $12.50 ($5 for kids) gets you a buffet dinner and parking; dinner goes from 5:30 to 9:30. Call 525-1777 for details.
In northern California, where wine fancying has taken on the dimensions of an epidemic, wine-tasting jaunts to the Napa Valley and Sonoma County are de rigueur, and make the roads back to civilization a mite hazardous at day's end. Of course, such fine living is not usually available to Chicagoans, so in an example of the mountain coming to Muhammad, the Sonoma County Wineries Association is taking over the ballroom at McCormick Place tonight for the 12th annual Grand Tour Wine Tasting. Present will be more than 100 wines from 50 Sonoma wineries and a score or so of accompanying cheeses from closer locales. It's $27.50 at the door. The tasting lasts from 6:30 to 9:30. Proceeds go to wine-making students at universities in California and the midwest. Call 708-593-7987 for details.
British documentary cinematographer Nick Hale is currently a visiting lecturer at Columbia College; tonight, he's beginning a free four-part series of talks on various aspects of documentary filmmaking. Oxford-educated Hale began work as a cameraman, editor, and director 30 years ago, and his huge variety of work for British TV and independent producers has ranged from a multipart series on the history of the oceans to The Compleat Beatles. His talk today, which should be practical but not overly technical, is on filming in dangerous situations; future Tuesday talks will touch on shooting stage footage and docudramas. They all take place in the college's Documentary Center, 624 S. Michigan, suite 301, from 1 to 2. Call 663-1600 ext. 306 for details.
For some, the few morsels of actual journalistic analysis amid the otherwise fairly uninterrupted cheerleading that passed as war coverage over the last few months constituted an acceptable level of freethinking on the part of the press. For others, it wasn't enough. The Gulf Crisis TV Project, created by the Center for New Television, Paper Tiger Television, and the Deep Dish Satellite Network, was broadcast over cable and public TV in January in an attempt to present the broader story through compiled footage and reporting from political organizations and filmmakers around the country. Tonight, Dee Dee Halleck, founder of Deep Dish and Pager Tiger, will host an evening of the series' four programs: War, Oil and Power, about the relationship between the oil and defense industries; Getting Out of the Sand Trap, about U.S. foreign policy; Operation Dissidence, an analysis of the press; and Bring the Troops Home!, about protesters. Things start at 7 at the Center for New Television, 912 S. Wabash. Admission is $2. Call 427-5446.
There's a great bill tonight at Cabaret Metro: The Lilacs are Green bassist Ken Kurson's new outfit, a sort of post-neo-glam aggregation that puts out its own magazine and throws Lilacs stickers around; their coolest tune is a throbby, moody little song with a chorus that goes, "God it seems like years since I've had sex." Cheer-Accident, named after a category of Hallmark cards, is a very weird, very noisy multiguitar and -effects ensemble that does, among other things, a wholly cauterizing assault on "Theme From Shaft." The two groups, along with Beyond Zebra, play in a Rock Against Depression show with a $4 cover. The show starts at 10. Cabaret Metro is at 3730 N. Clark. Call 549-0203 for details.
The Gulf Peace Team was sent out by the Palestinian Human Rights Campaign to monitor the war as best they could. Father Bob Bossie and Dina Lawrence are now back with their reports; they'll recount their experiences in Baghdad and Jordan tonight at the Sheil Center, 2110 Sheridan Road in Evanston. It's free. Call 708-328-4648 for details.