If you thought a midwesterner couldn't compete against southern hegemony in world-class barbecuing, think again: the winner in the lamb category at last year's Illinois competition, BC Barbeque of Champaign, eventually came in second at the fabled Kansas City Barbeque Society nationals. BC Barbeque is expected to compete at this year's Illinois State Barbeque Championship with other chefs in the categories of pork ribs, poultry, loin and beef brisket, and the whole hog. You can go watch the proceedings for free (and maybe sample some of the fare) at King James' Refuge, 1200 W. Hawthorne in West Chicago, today from 4 to 9 and tomorrow from 11 to 5. Call 708-231-6262.
It's Canada Day! Dinner, dancing, and polite conversation are on the agenda as the Lincoln Park Zoo salutes our quiet neighbor to the north's 125th birthday at its 19th annual ball. Aurora Borealis: An Evening Under the Stars is overseen by the Lincoln Park Zoological Society; the $250 ticket gets you the food, dancing to the sounds of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Bison Band, and knowledge that you're helping to maintain the zoo's status as one of the last free-admission zoos in the world. The festivities get under way with cocktails at 7:30 on the zoo's main mall, 2200 N. Cannon; call 935-6700 for more.
Bluegrass music got its name from seminal practitioners the Bluegrass Boys, who in turn took their moniker from the nickname of their home state of Kentucky. The music's roots are apparently in Scottish and Irish folk music; subsequent mixtures with jazz, ragtime, swing, and gospel in the postwar South created the rollin' and pickin' music we love today. High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music, a feature documentary by Rachel Liebling, salutes the father of the music, Bill Monroe, and checks out modern practitioners like Illinois' own Alison Kraus. The film shows at the Film Center, Columbus and Jackson, at 6 and 8 tonight, and at 6 tomorrow. Admission is $5, $3 for members. Call 443-3733 for more.
"Sensuality and the Five Senses," "Chills, Thrills, and Spills," "Intrigue and Women in Jeopardy," "Building Sexual Tension," and "Historical Costumes for Men and Boys" are just a few of the dozens of seminar, workshop, and lecture subjects offered at the Romance Writers of America's 1992 conference, Getting Fired Up in Chicago, being held at the Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan, through Sunday. Registration is closed, but you can try to sneak into a workshop, or settle for either the $65 banquet tonight at 7 or the free author book-signing tomorrow at 1 PM. For the latter, authors and publishers have donated the books; you buy them, have 'em signed, and the proceeds go to literacy programs here and in Canada. Call 922-4400 for details.
If you missed the bluegrass movie earlier, you can revel in the memories of somewhat less traditional music tonight at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Disco Inferno--The Ultimate 70s Trash Bash (organizers say it was "a big hit in NYC"--as if we care) lets you dig out your platform shoes and leisure suits to dance to the sounds of Alicia Bridges, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Disco Tex and His Sex-O-Lettes, and the Trammps (auteurs of the night's eponymous song) in this to-the-wee-hours event. Doors open at 10:30; admission is a slightly steep $10 (what do they think this is--Studio 54?). Call 929-5959 for more.
We've heard of getting up early on a Sunday and being productive, but this is a little ridiculous: the Friends of the Parks' Insomnia Cycle '92, a four-hour bike jaunt around the city begins--begins!--at 1:30 AM at Buckingham Fountain, just east of the Congress and Columbus intersection. The ride goes as far west as Pulaski and as far north as Devon before coursing back down through Lincoln Park to the fountain. Registration begins at 12:01 AM; the fee is $15 or $10 in advance. For your money you get a map, repair assistance, refreshments on a rest stop along the way, and an apres-ride sunrise breakfast. (Another ten bucks gets you a T-shirt as well.) Give the Friends a call at 922-3307 for more.
As late as 1989 there was no AIDS service group in Cook County north of Foster, but the Evanston-based BE-HIV (Better Existence with HIV) changed all that. Now in its third year, the organization offers support groups in Evanston and Arlington Heights, provides transportation and companionship to patients, and works on outreach to high-risk groups. The organization's summer fund-raiser takes place tonight at 6 at Las Palmas restaurant, 1642 Maple in Evanston, with the usual layout of food, music, and prizes. It's $20, $35 a couple, and $10 for kids. Call 708-475-2115 for info or reservations.
The National Leather Association's mission is "to guard the freedom of individuals to pursue the sexual interests of their choice between consenting adults"; to this end, the Chicago chapter is holding a get-to-know-us soiree for anyone interested in leather, sadomasochism, bondage and discipline, and fetishes. On the agenda is an introduction to the group, a leather fashion show, and a raffle; top prize is a jacket from Leather Makers. It all begins at 9 at Berlin, 954 W. Belmont. There's a $2 admission fee; call 404-0478.
Talk about covering the waterfront: For nearly nine months, photographer Mark Ballogg's been shooting where the city meets Lake Michigan, foot by foot, mile by mile. He aims to memorialize the whole darn thing over the course of a massive six-year project called Lake Mosaics. You can see the work-in-progress--280 6-by-24-inch panoramic prints--at the Lorenzo Rodriguez Gallery, 1178 N. Milwaukee, through August 2. The hours are 11 to 6 Tuesday through Saturday. It's free; call 342-5156.
In marked contrast to his ever-more-baroquely-conceived work with the Beatles, John Lennon's drawings remained naive and uncluttered throughout his life. A relatively comprehensive overview of his work hits town today for four days of viewing from 9 to 9 at the Courtyard Marriott, 30 E. Hubbard. Imagine Exhibition: The Art of John Lennon covers almost all of Lennon's adult artwork: the silly, fantastical drawings that accompanied books like A Spaniard in the Works and In His Own Write; the loving, slightly pornographic portraits of himself and Yoko Ono; a series of ink brush drawings from a trip to Japan; and a set of reputedly lighthearted works from his last years at the Dakota. It's free to go look; call 781-7300 for more.
The Great Kat, a self-described "Juilliard graduate/violin virtuoso/hyperspeed-metal guitar genius/reincarnation of Beethoven," will strut her stuff tonight at Avalon, 959 W. Belmont. The guitarist claims to be in the process of "single-handedly changing the history of music" with her metal-classical fusion and says she's already gained adherents on such pipelines to the popular psyche as the Maury Povich and Joan Rivers shows. Judge for yourself tonight at 11:30. Tix are $5. Call 472-3020 for more.
If a reincarnated Beethoven doesn't do it for you, how 'bout a Swedish Rembrandt? The work of young Anders Skold, who limns the paraphernalia of Sweden's west coast--cliffs, boats, fishermen's huts--in his paintings, will be exhibited through September 13 at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark. Hours are Tuesdays through Fridays 11 to 4, Saturdays and Sundays 11 to 3. It's free to take a look. Call 728-8111 for more.
The young heroine of Alice Walker's new novel, Possessing the Secret of Joy, is subjected to genital mutilation according to African tribal custom; as an adult in America, she battles the trauma in psychoanalysis. Walker will sign books tonight from 8 to 10 at Women & Children First bookstore, 5233 N. Clark. It's free; call 769-9299 for more.