We live in an age of explicitness; even the most ardent anticensorship campaigner has to admit that the terms of the battle--whether the government should fund crucifixes submerged in urine, or whether a film that features Uma Thurman and Maria de Medeiros in an, um, enthusiastic ten-minute sex scene should warrant an X rating--indicate that we're hardly on the brink of repression censorshipwise. Still, legislative shenanigans--like the attempt to defund the National Endowment for the Arts--keep rearing their heads, so it's probably good to keep an eye on things. Which is the purpose of Conversations With the Community: What's Next for the Arts?, a four-hour symposium today that includes a panel of legal experts and representatives from both the administrative and creative sides of the arts community. Sponsoring the discussion are the Illinois Arts Alliance Foundation and Lawyers for the Creative Arts. It's at the Goodman Theatre, 200 S. Columbus, beginning at 8:30 AM. It's $25, $10 for members of either sponsoring group and students. Call 885-3105 for details.
It looks like the Palestinians are coming out losers yet again; they're being terrorized in Kuwait, and their leadership has been discredited once more. Meanwhile the intifada continues on the West Bank, as does Israel's brutal suppression. This weekend an Israeli soldier who has served two one-month jail terms for refusing to serve in the occupied territories will be in town to talk about the state of the state of Israel in the wake of the war. Asher Rotem was born in an Austrian refugee camp; his family went to Israel in 1949, and he fought in both the Yom Kippur and Six-Day wars. But he's now a member of Yesh Gvul, an organization of soldiers who opposed the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Rotem will make two appearances in town this weekend: Tonight at 7 he'll speak in room 206 of the Stuart Center of DePaul University, 2323 N. Seminary. It's free; call 427-2533 for details. And tomorrow he'll be at a 6 PM vegetarian potluck dinner at 1321 W. Albion. Bring a dish; there's also a $5 requested donation. Call 348-1416 to make reservations.
The annual opening of Brett's Waveland Cafe--the improbably nice diner run by Brett Knobel, in the Waveland field house vicinity of Lincoln Park--is the occasion for a neighborhood kite-flying derby today. Attending will be the Skyliners, a band of kite fanciers who'll demonstrate some custom kites and give tyros advice. BYO kite; otherwise it's free. Things get under way at noon and go to 3. Call the Waveland Restoration Group at 472-5509 for details.
For some of us, a salesperson who "dreads hearing the word 'No!,' hates to make calls, and views the telephone as an instrument of torture" is the equivalent of a German shepherd that doesn't bite--just the sort of thing that we need more of. To sales expert Joseph Mill, however, this kind of person represents a challenge. He's holding a Cold Call Clinic for thin-skinned salespeople at the Evanston Holiday Inn, 1501 Sherman in Evanston, today at 1. Mills promises instruction in "cold calling" (salesese for "unsolicited nuisancing") and how to deal with problems like procrastination and fear of failure. It's $20 for the four-hour session. Call 883-0430 for more information.
Boston's Either/Orchestra percolates cozily in a philosophical home somewhere between Sun Ra's Artkestra and the Gil Evans Orchestra; led by saxophonist-composer Russ Gershon, the 11-piece aggregation has drawn notice for both Gershon's and other members' originals and its respectful but innovative use of texts by everyone from Thelonious Monk to Robert Fripp to Horace Silver to Bob Dylan. The band hits the Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, at 8 tonight. It's $7. Call 878-5552.
Rhonda Root specializes in photo-realist building facades made unnerving with just a touch of the surreal; a free reception for her new exhibit at the Joy Horwich Gallery, 226 E. Ontario, goes from 2 to 4 today. A slide lecture starts at 3; call for reservations for that: 787-0170.
Soviet director Grigori Kozintsev's film's have never been hailed as classics--critic David Thomson describes Kozintsev's best-known work, a series of tony literary adaptations, as "meticulous, literal films, inclined to make crude extensions of the original works toward Communist ideology." Still, his 1964 Hamlet has always been something of an exception--it's based on a translation by Boris Pasternak and scored by Dmitry Shostakovich, and even Thomson singles out the lead performance by Innokenty Smoktunovsky. The film--with Smoktunovsky himself present to talk and answer questions--shows at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton, at 6 tonight. It's $5, $3 for Facets members. A dollar more and you can stay and see the last showing of the Chicago premiere of Harold Pinter's adaptation of Fred Uhlman's Reunion at 9. Call 281-4114 for details.
Resolved: That highfalutin debate questions posited in the manner of the Oxford Union sound pretentious on this side of the Atlantic and should be banned. Now there's a subject for discussion. Instead, a team of genuine Oxford students and a team from Northwestern will take on the much less interesting topic of "Resolved: That the United Kingdom's system for electing a prime minister is superior to the United States' presidential selection process." (Hopefully, neither side will base its arguments on the respective systems' recent results.) The teams face off tonight at 7:15 in room 217 of Northwestern's Fisk Hall, 1845 Sheridan Road in Evanston. The debate and reception to follow are both free. Advance reservations can be made at 708-491-3751; walk-ins will be let in on a space-available basis.
Everyone from the writer's group Midwest PEN to the Mozambique Support Network is behind Read Aloud!, a program of writers reading to demonstrate support for human rights and freedom of expression around the world. It's an undertaking of the International Human Rights Task Force of the American Library Association; while the focus is on the international, readings will also cover "both covert and overt suppression of information and expression in the U.S." Among the featured guests today in Preston Bradley Hall, Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington: Paco's Story author (and National Book Award winner) Larry Heinemann, novelists Harry Mark Petrakis and Sterling Plumpp, and poets David Hernandez and Jean Howard. The event closes with fun from the women's performance group Battleax Acts and Repercussions. The program runs from 4 to 7 and it's free. Call 549-6421.
Connoisseurs know that Thomas Park D'Invillers was just a nom d'epigraph of F. Scott Fitzgerald; his most noted verse is printed on the title page of The Great Gatsby. "Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; / If you can bounce high, bounce high for her too, / Till she cry, "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, / I must have you!"' Turning a work of such charged affection as Gatsby into a legitimate play is the job Wisdom Bridge Theatre's John Carlile has undertaken; it seems a thankless proposition, but let's give him a chance. ("Reserving judgments," said Nick Carraway, "is a matter of infinite hope.") Twenty cast members, seven musicians, and a huge production and design team make this Wisdom Bridge's largest production ever; two weeks of previews conclude tonight with a gala ($250 a ticket) grand opening at 6:30 (a reception starts at 5:45). After tonight tickets are $20.50-$26.50; the show is scheduled to run through May 26 at the theater, 1559 W. Howard. Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 8, Saturday at 5 and 8:30, and Sunday at 3 and 7:30. Call 743-6000 for details.
More lit: Barbara's Bookstore's generally trustworthy Pat Peterson says that Typical American, the first novel by Massachusetts writer Gish Jen, about three Chinese immigrants, "has quite deservedly captivated everyone who has had the good fortune to read it." Jen will read from her book at Barbara's, 1350 N. Wells, at 7:30 tonight. It's free. Call 642-5044.