A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union 1881-1981 is a massive, 350-plus photo exhibition chronicling the lives of Jews in the Soviet Union, from life under the czars to their hopeful participation in the 1917 revolution, the increasing difficulties and persecution under the Communists, and the Jewish revival of the 1960s. The photographs--with subjects ranging from family and village life to war--come from the collection of the Yivo Institute, the center for Jewish research founded in 1925 in what is now Vilnius, Lithuania; the Chicago chapter of the group is sponsoring the local exhibit, which opens today, and will hold supplementary programs during the show's three-month run in the main exhibition hall of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. The show is open from 9 to 5 today and tomorrow, 9 to 7 Monday through Thursday, and it's free. Call 747-4876 for more.
Giant killer cum Senate nominee Carol Moseley Braun delivers the keynote speech tonight at the annual Independent Voters of Illinois--Independent Precinct Organization's Independents' Day Event. The $45 ticket gets Braun's talk--"A Voyage of Political Discovery"--along with the presentation of the Barbara Merrill-Rudy Lozano Labor Awards. This year's recipients are Thomas Geoghegan, labor lawyer and author of Which Side Are You On?, and Teamster reformist Leroy Ellis. Mayor Richie is also expected to make an appearance. It's in the second-floor ballroom at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan, from 6 to 8:30; call 663-4203 for more.
"When I first met her I thought she was sleazy; she needed to make a living, she was fucking on camera--I thought she was just another dumb porno slut. But I was wrong . . . " And so begins another classic love story. Kamikaze Hearts, a 16-millimeter feature-length documentary by young filmmaker Juliet Bashore, follows the relationship of porn stars Tigr Menett and Sharon Mitchell in a real-life world of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. It plays at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton, tonight through Thursday at 7 and 9. Admission is $5; call 281-4114.
Perpetrators of art both high (Ralph Ellison) and low (Sugar Rautbord) will be scampering around the eighth annual Printers Row Book Fair, held from 10 to 5 today and tomorrow on Dearborn between Congress and Polk, just south of the Loop. Ellison, author of The Invisible Man, talks inside Dearborn Street Station, 47 W. Polk, at 11 AM. Socialite Rautbord will speak there at noon. Other notable appearances include Connie Fletcher, author of What Cops Know, at 3:30 PM at the station on Sunday and a panel of sportswriters featuring The Jordan Rules author Sam Smith at 2 PM Saturday at the Hyatt, 500 S. Dearborn. It's all set amongst blocks of books imported by booksellers from across the country. It's free to listen and look. Call 987-1980.
Ever wonder what's under the surface of the Great Lakes? The focus of tonight's program, presented by the Underwater Archaeological Society of Chicago, is famous and recently discovered shipwrecks, including an update on the schooner Persian, which was discovered last summer, just 123 years after Lake Huron swallowed it whole. An Evening With Great Lakes Divers starts at 6:30 tonight at the auditorium of the Chicago Historical Society, Clark Street at North Avenue. It's $15; call 642-4600 for more.
Eighty years ago the duet of Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett designed the marvelous "emerald necklace" of parks and tree-lined boulevards circling the city. The annual Chicago Boulevard Lakefront Tour starts at the Midway Plaisance at the University of Chicago (Woodlawn and 59th Street), and then gets as far north as Logan Square before tacking over to the lakefront and thence to Hyde Park; along the way you see, among others, Washington, Garfield, and Humboldt parks. The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation is providing rest stops along the way and a postride party. You can still register at the starting point this morning from 6 to 8; the ride starts at 7:30. It costs $15; call 427-3325 for more.
A rare traveling exhibition of Cuban arts--certainly among the first since the Castro era began nearly 35 years ago--hits the School of the Art Institute this week. The Nearest Edge of the World: Art and Cuba Now runs through July 29 at the Betty Rymer Gallery, 280 S. Columbus. The folks at the school say the artists are influenced by a variety of "Cuban cultural legacies, including Afro-Cuban religion, U.S.-inspired low-art objects, and icons of the Cuban revolution." The exhibition is free, and open 10 to 5 daily save Sundays. Call 443-3703 for more.
Jerry Garcia saw the Haight-Ashbury at its height in the 60s, flirted with irrelevance in the 70s, fell into a drug-related near-coma in Golden Gate Park in the 80s, and has watched the inexplicable superstardom of his band, the Grateful Dead, continue into the 90s. In conjunction with the band's Thursday and Friday shows at Soldier Field, Garcia will show paintings, drawings, and lithographs at the Deson-Saunders Gallery, 328 W. Chicago, today through Saturday. Garcia himself will attend free receptions on Thursday and Saturday from 5 to 8 PM. Gallery hours are 10:30 to 5:30. Call 787-0005 for more.
Lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are gearing up to campaign for Carol Moseley Braun with a free strategy meeting tonight at 7 at Ann Sather, 929 W. Belmont. Call 989-6940 for details.
When we hear the phrase "funny lawyer" we think of "funny" in the sense of "funny money," but the Public Offenders, the all-barrister comedy troupe, will try to convince you otherwise in a six-night stand at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, this week and next. The troupe plays tonight through Thursday and next Tuesday through Thursday at 7:00; tix are $7.50. More info? Call 902-5213. (Why do lawyers wear their collars so tight? To keep the foreskin down.)
Carol Kleiman, author of the nationally syndicated "Jobs" column in the Trib and a contributing editor of Ms. magazine, has made a splash with her new book, The 100 Best Jobs for the 1990s and Beyond; in it she discusses what influence concepts like flex-time, employee training, and home offices will have in the future job market. Kleiman will address the monthly dinner meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners at the 410 Club, 410 N. Michigan, at 5:30 this evening. The event costs $35; call the association at 708-256-1563 for reservations.
Feeling antipodal? The travel bookstore the Savvy Traveller and the city's cultural affairs department have conspired to bring you a free seminar on traveling in Australia tonight. Karen Stotz of the Australian Tourist Commission will talk about the wheres and hows of travel to Australia as well as impart some information on treks to the more remote parts of the country. It's at the theater of the Cultural Center, 79 E. Washington, at 5:30. Call 263-2100 for details.
After the crucial and bloody Battle of Gettysburg, with Lee in retreat, Union general George Meade didn't have time to pick up the debris."That debris," writes noted political scholar Garry Wills,"was mainly a matter of rotting horseflesh and manflesh--thousands of fermenting bodies, with gas-distended bellies, deliquescing in the July heat." The occasion of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was the dedication of a new cemetery to inter the bodies. In Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, Wills argues that the dedication gave Lincoln the opportunity to perform an act of "open-air sleight of hand." In the address, Wills says, Lincoln buttresses a new political concept of freedom by finessing the constitution--which tolerated slavery--and appealing to the Declaration of Independence, which insisted that all men are created equal. Wills gives a free reading from his book Lincoln at Gettysburg tonight at 7:30 at Kroch's & Brentano's, 2070 N. Clybourn. Call 525- 2800 for more.