With Election Day fast approaching, Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee, presents Re-Imagining America, a group exhibit that starts tonight with a 5 PM open forum, where the artists will talk about their work; a reception follows from 6 to 8. Tomorrow there's a 10 AM workshop on grass-roots politics and a 3 PM "Freedom Fair" with booths and reps from a couple of dozen political groups. Everything's free except for the workshop, which costs $5. Call 666-7737 for more.
"I don't have any sympathy for a guy who makes 20 to 30 million a year," says hard-line paparazzo Victor Malafronte, who makes a nice living himself as an unflinching celebrity tracker, hunting down and shooting the likes of Madonna, Michael J. Fox, John F. Kennedy Jr., and other tabloid fodder on the streets of New York. His story and that of the world of paparazzi generally are told in the rambunctious documentary Blast 'Em, running through next Sunday at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton. The film, say the folks at Facets, is "fascinating, provocative, and ill-mannered." It plays at 7 and 9 nightly save for 5:30 and 7:30 PM showings Sunday. It's $5, $3 for members. Call 281-9075 for more.
Planet watchers will convene at 7 tonight for the monthly meeting of the Chicago Astronomical Society, the nation's oldest astronomy group, at the Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive. On the agenda: Loyola natural-sciences prof David Slavsky giving the talk "An Astronomer Dares to Reveal the Truth About Astrology." It's free; call 725-5618 for details.
The resplendent homes of Logan Square--part of the best preserved and most complete stretch of Chicago's beautiful boulevard system--will be on display today in the 11th annual Logan Square Boulevards Historic District Housewalk. The district housed Wieboldts and Schwinns, Goldblatts and Kimballs in its fin de siecle heyday. The walk begins at 10 at the offices of Logan Square Preservation, 3024 W. Logan, and lasts till 5. Tickets cost $10, $8 for seniors, two bucks less if you buy them in advance. Call 252-4859 for details.
In recognition of its 100th anniversary, south-suburban Chicago Heights essays its first Hispanic Festival today and tomorrow. A host of musical acts--the Placer Band, La Promesa, and Arturo Andunaequi among them--and a two-day soccer tournament, a petting zoo, and the usual variety of foodstuffs round out the weekend's festivities at Bloom High School, 10th and Dixie Highway in Chicago Heights. It runs from 2 to 11 today, 2 to 10 tomorrow, and it's free. Call 708-754-1881 for more.
There's a gender-busting, globe-spanning lineup of female singing prowess headlining at Orchestra Hall tonight. The Old Town School of Folk Music-sponsored program features the first Chicago appearance of the Charmaine Neville Band, led by a member of the remarkable New Orleans family's second generation, the daughter of Neville Brother Charles. Also on the bill are Aster Eweke, an Ethiopian pop sensation who's been compared to Aretha Franklin, and Ann Peebles, product of the same Memphis soul scene that produced Al Green. The show starts at 7:30 at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan. Tix are $30, $25, $15, and $12.50; call 435-6666 for tickets.
Carol Moseley Braun will be the star panelist today at a discussion entitled Political Empowerment: Making a Difference. The U. of I.'s Diane Pinderhughes, League of Black Women head Ingrid Wallace, and others will also be on the panel; the session will be moderated by Craddock Communications prez Bobbie Craddock Lawrie. It's free, at the Coppin Memorial A.M.E. Church, 5633 S. Michigan. Things get under way at 4. Call 667-5881.
Club Lower Links has lost its founder, Leigh Jones, but the new owners promise that the black-walled, red-lit club will keep both its ambience and its tradition of aggressively booking the best in local experimental theater and music. The club reopens tonight at 8 with the latest installment of Thax After Dark, a music and poetry revue curated by Thax Douglas. The lineup includes some acoustic songs from Boom Hank and words from the likes of Mark Bazant, Kimberly Stoff, and more. It's $5, at 954 W. Newport. Call 248-5238 for more.
The Alliance Francaise de Chicago's English reading group is tackling the subject of French autobiography: they're just about to take on Simone de Beauvoir's Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, with her A Very Easy Death to follow. You must be a member to attend; memberships cost $30 for people under 30 years old and $50 for anyone older. The alliance suggests you bring the book and, if you want, a lunch to their 12:30 meeting today at 810 N. Dearborn. Call 337-1070 for more.
A dizzying array of foofaraw marking the Columbus anniversary--movies, books, and controversy--are on the way. You can sort out some of this last at 5:30 today at a panel called The Quincentenary Re-examined, in the theater of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. On the dais: Chicago Latin Cinema's Pepe Vargas, City Colleges vice chancellor Inez Boca Negra-Gordon, muralist Alejandro Romero, and others; it's free. Call 744-1424 for more.
A nationwide search for cool street musicians hits town today for a noontime playoff under the Picasso. Musical Feast, hosted by Bo Diddley, will feature an a cappella group called the Lake Edna Solo Singers and about 300 local performers. The best performer, as judged by Diddley, will be flown to New York later this month to compete against four other regional winners for $15,000. It's free to go watch, in Daley Plaza, Washington and Randolph. Call 280-7000 for details.
The Women's Action Coalition, formed in New York in the wake of the Anita Hill hearings, was designed to initiate creative protests, marches, and scenes in general--everything from defending abortion clinics to picketing museums that overlook women artists to marching in a drum corps with rhythms composed by Laurie Anderson. The group's going strong in New York, Houston, and San Francisco; the first local meeting of the group happens tonight at 7 at the Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. All you need to attend is to be female. Call 666-7737 for info.
Around the Coyote, the Bucktown and Wicker Park artist community's massive annual gallery and studio tour, kicks off tonight with their first Gallery AIDS Walk Chicago. The walk starts at 7 in the parking lot across the street from Babaluci, 2152 N. Damen; organizers have marked a trail--with coyote paw prints, of course--leading to galleries in the Webster and Elston area and to the festival's heart at Milwaukee, Damen, and North. Along the way you'll get asked by volunteers for pledges to the September 20 AIDS Walk, and to make a $5 donation to the Artists Fund of America, a group that buys art supplies for artists with AIDS. The opening-night activities end with a party at 10 at the Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division, with music provided by Betty Dupree. The party's $5 if you haven't already contributed. Around the Coyote continues through the weekend, with studios open 3 to 10 Thursday and Friday, 11 to 7 Saturday and Sunday. It's free; stop by the tour's HQ at 1579 N. Milwaukee for maps and info at any time during the festival. Call 342-6777 for more.
The mystery of 50s pinup Betty Page continues. The LA Weekly recently asked, "Was she a strong woman, asserting her sexuality freely, ahead of her time in an era of repression? Or was she a victim, an aspiring actress who could only fund her acting and singing classes by letting others exploit her body for profit?" The mysterious icon--she posed for some of the more titillating shots of the era (some in bondage) but later, a failed actress, disappeared--is now a cult figure to a growing legion of fans. A rather unlikely collaboration between Scott Vehill, author of the well-received Bukowski bio-play Buk, and Michael Flores, Psychotronic Film Society capo and self-described defender of bad taste, has produced The Betty Page Story, a theatrical hymn to the lost pinup; the show stars Amy Osborn as Page, and opens tonight at 8 at the Prop Theater, 1843 W. North. Tickets are $10; call 738-0985.