Tired of the armchair anticommunists who've been filling the nation's op-ed pages with their views on the failed coup in the Soviet Union? Today you can hear a real one as Igor Grazin, a member of the Supreme Soviet and a drafter of Estonia's declaration of independence (back in 1988, when it was still a dangerous thing to do) speaks this morning at 11 in Lecture Center A-5, just west of the Circle Center at the University of Illinois, 750 S. Halsted. It's free. Call 996-3115 for details.
During the second annual Around the Coyote festival--more or less named for the Tower Coyote Gallery, in the flamboyant art deco Northwest Tower Building, which anchors the intersection of North, Milwaukee, and Damen. (you can still see the green neon coyote sculpture in the window)--painters, computer artists, photographers, sculptors, and other artists will open their homes, studios, and galleries to show off their stuff. There's also a bunch of accompanying theater, music, film, and dance. Potential highlights: a dance-music-video-theater endeavor called American Way, choreographed by Shawn Coyle and composed by Thomas Masters (tonight and tomorrow at 9 and Sunday at 5 at At the Gallery, 1543 W. Division); an exhibit of ten computer artists at Kill the Poets, 1801 W. Division, open from 3 to 10 today and 11 to 7 tomorrow and Sunday; and a photography show called "Evidence of the Art-Making Process," wherein five experimental photographers explain the decision-making processes of their work, at the Ludwig Drum Factory, 1728 N. Damen, same hours as the show at Kill the Poets. There's lots more and it's all free: for details or a full schedule, stop by the Tower Building at 1608 N. Milwaukee or call 342-6777.
For two more days at the Alchemy Cafe you can still get "folk food" (salmon hash, roast chicken, macaroni and cheese to die for) served in homey but slightly surreal surroundings by a soft-spoken guy who wears a pajama top for a shirt. He's Jaap Hoogstraten, the proprietor, who with wife Diane Rosen, the cook, opened the place in early 1989. But now the restaurant is being forced out of its building at 1835 W. North--"we are not going voluntarily," says a note on the menu--without enough notice to have a new location ready. Alchemy Cafe's last days are today and tomorrow; it's open from 4:30 to 10:30. The number is 276-4448.
The Prism Art and Performance Centre, which presents modern music, film, and dance, has lost its lease on its space at 620 Davis in Evanston, and all month there are benefit performances scheduled to help the longtime gallery hit the ground on its feet. This weekend's program sounds like fun: it's a demolition party to reduce the space's mazelike configuration to one big room. Bring a sledgehammer and prepare to bash; it's free, and Prism will provide the refreshments, from 10 to 10 today and tomorrow. Call 708-475-7500 for details.
"Bone-crushing terror! Spine-tingling chills! The Corpse Grinders turn bones and flesh into screaming, savage blood death!" Those were the original movie-poster inducements to Ted V. Mikels's gore classic The Corpse Grinders, the story of a cat-food company that finds ground-up humans a hit with the kitties, only to discover that the felines, once hooked, go after the dish free-lance. Apparently taking its cue from Frank Galati, the Transient Theatre has adapted this uplifting cinematic tone poem for the stage. The result continues Fridays and Saturdays at 11 PM through October 19 at the theater, 1222 W. Wilson. The adaptation is by Sean Abley, who stars, and Timothy M. P. Lynch directs. Tickets are $10, $8 if you bring a can of cat food (to be given to the Anti-Cruelty Society). Call 334-6811 for details.
If you like to run but can't get into mainstream runners' fashions, try the third annual XRT 5K Run: prizes will be awarded not only to those crossing the finish line first but to those crossing it first sporting a Hula Hoop, a chef's apron, neon orange socks, or ski goggles. The race begins and ends at Artists' Frame Service, 1915 N. Clybourn, and courses through DePaul and the Clybourn corridor in between. Starting time is 9 AM; it's $15 to enter, $20 the day of the run. WXRT's Johnny Mars officiates. Call 868-3010 for more.
"The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male" was just that--a 40-year-long government-funded study of what would happen if penicillin was denied to a group of black Alabama farmers with syphilis. (That's what I like about the South.) Miss Evers' Boys, the Goodman's new offering, is a reputedly powerful portrayal of the ordeal of four Tuskegee patients under the care of nurse Eunice Evers, by playwright and MD David Feldshuh. It's currently in previews and runs through October 19. Tonight the Goodman is offering an "Artists and Issues Forum" on the play's gritty subject matter, with a discussion panel that includes director Kenny Leon, Remains Theatre artistic director Larry Sloan, University of Chicago internist Clinton Lindo, and other specialists on clinical and biomedical ethics. It's $10, $8 in advance, and runs from 6:30 to 8 at the theater, 200 S. Columbus. Previews run through September 22, at 7:30 Wednesday and Thursday, 8 Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 and 8 Sunday. Tix are $20. Call 443-3822 for more info.
The University of Chicago's first structures were a series of Gothic-influenced quadrangles modeled after buildings at Oxford and Cambridge; the imposing buildings known as the "gray city" were built on the north side of the Midway Plaisance during the same period that the "white city" of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition ran down the Plaisance, the sharp contrast earning them their nickname. "The Gray City": Architectural Drawings of the University of Chicago, continuing at the university's Smart Museum of Art through December 8, is an exhibit of 21 drawings and renderings from the original designs of the university. Included: a 1915 charcoal of the Classics Building clock, a perspective drawing of the International House from 1932, and Mies van der Rohe's 1963 plans for the school's Social Service Administration Building. The museum's open Tuesday through Friday 10 to 4, Saturday and Sunday noon to 6. Admission is free. Call 702-0200.
The easy way to clear up the congestion on Chicago's highways would be for fewer people to drive. The problem is that everyone wants other people to stop so the highways will be clear for them. The Regional Transportation Authority and the CTA have declared tomorrow Beat the Back Up Day; they're asking commuters to please, just this once, abandon the car and try public transportation. Everyone's chipping in: WMAQ is hosting a rally at noon today in Daley Plaza to promote the idea, and the Trib says it'll sell discounted papers at suburban rail stations to help people appreciate the joys of riding the train and reading the paper. (Well, better the Trib than The Burden of Proof.) "Beat the Back Up Day" is tomorrow; the rally today is free. Call 245-6073 for more info on either.
Afrika Bambaataa was a Bronx party DJ when he and a group called Soulsonic Force recorded a blast of funked-up hip-hop called "Planet Rock," a huge seller and one of the most influential dance singles of the 80s. Since then he's done more of the same, notably a bone-crushing duet with former Sex Pistol John Lydon called "World Destruction," and he's recorded with everyone from James Brown to Boy George to the experimental fusion group Material. Now he has another hit with the song "Just Get Up and Dance" from a new album, The Decade of Darkness. Bambaataa, who's apparently never appeared in the midwest before, plays the Kaboom! nightclub, 747 N. Green, at 11 tonight--and after the show, he'll spin discs for two hours to boot. Cover is $10. Call 243-8600 for details.
Tom Geoghegan's Which Side Are You On? is an elaborate apologia for both his choice of career--he's a young labor lawyer--and the cause of labor generally. The Chicago author's been getting raves across the country for what the folks at Kroch's & Brentano's say is a book that deserves "a very high place in the literature of commitment." Geoghegan talks about his book tonight at 7:30 in the Kroch's at 2070 N. Clybourn. The talk's free; the book's $19.95. Call 525-2800 for more.