The Goodman Theatre's huge "scene shop"--the west-side warehouse where the company's extravagant and engaging sets are constructed--will itself be the scene for a party and a show by performance artist David Cale tonight. The event benefits the Discovery Board, the avant-ish arm of the theater that sponsors its more experimental work, including Scott McPherson's Marvin's Room and Cale's several Goodman appearances. The Make the Scene party will feature jazz from Fareed Hague, Dave Onderdonk, and Mark Walker followed by Cale doing scenes from his new work Somebody Else's House. Tickets are $75 and $150. Things get under way at 7 at the space, 2040 W. Carroll. Call 435-2770.
A quartet of videos by women make up Funny Meaning Strange. Funny Meaning Funny, a program showing at Randolph Street Gallery at 8 tonight and tomorrow. The show, curated by Lawrence Steger, includes Sadie Benning's Girl Power, G.B. Jones's The Yo-Yo Gang, about rival yo-yo and skateboard girl gangs, a number of short works by Leslie Singer, and the premiere of Suzie Silver's Freebird, which is accompanied by the strains of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic. The gallery is at 756 N. Milwaukee; it's $6. Call 666-7737 for more.
The Old Town Art Fair, now in its 44th year, calls itself the nation's oldest juried outdoor art event; in recent years more than 40,000 people a day have wandered throughout the warren of Old Town to see the work of hundreds of artists. The fair's set up on the 1800 blocks of North Orleans and Lincoln Park West, and on the adjacent blocks of Menomonee, North Park, and Wisconsin; admission is $3. Hours are 10 to 7:30 today, 10 to 6:30 tomorrow. Call 337-1938 for details.
Contending that the transit-malling of State Street hasn't worked, Mayor Daley has advocated turning the avenue back into a busy downtown street, cars and all. Debate on State is a free afternoon symposium on what's to be done. On the dais: political consultant Timuel Black, architect Daniel Coffey, UIC architecture prof Peter Hales, real estate consultant Mary Lambert, historian Ross Miller, and city landmarks deputy commish Charles Thurow. The Chicago Reporter's Laura Washington emcees. The session begins at 2 in the auditorium of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. Call 747-4800 for more.
You can scrape the bottom of the book barrel as the massive Brandeis Used Book Sale gets rid of its leftovers in a 50-cents-or-less sell-off. It's open from 6 to 10 tonight and 10 to 6 tomorrow. Look for the big tents in the parking lot of the Old Orchard Center, on Skokie Highway between Golf and Old Orchard roads in Skokie. It's free; call 708-724-9715. If you've got some books of your own that you want to get rid of, call 708-251-0690 to donate for next year's sale.
Ken Nordine--famed "word jazz" poet--is the star of the sixth annual Chicago Poetry Festival. The free event also features the finals of the city's "Poem for Warsaw" competition, in which five poets will vie for a trip to Warsaw; readings by poets from Morocco, China, and Italy; a stage for young poets; music by Circadian Rhythm; and even a "Bad Poetry Pie Toss." The noon-to-6 affair takes place at the east end of Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. For details call 791-7437.
Dorothy Sayers was born 100 years ago today. One of the first women to graduate from Oxford, she went on to write religious dramas, translate Dante, craft the beloved series of mysteries starring Lord Peter Wimsey, and even script radio plays. Saint James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron, honors her today at 4 with a prayer service that will feature some of her favorite hymns and readings from her work; a reception follows. It's all free. Call 787-7360 for more.
You can get a sense of how Eskimos and Native Americans viewed the world at a Newberry Library exhibition of 49 rare maps, many of which have never been seen before even by cartographic researchers. Cartographic Encounters: An Exhibition of North American Indian and Inuit Maps opens today in the library's Hermon Dunlap Smith Gallery and stays up through July 17. Hours are Monday, Friday, and Saturday 8:15 to 5 and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:15 to 7:30. The library is at 60 W. Walton. It's free; call 943-9090, ext. 310 for more.
Got some questions about being gay? Eric Marcus's new book, Is It a Choice?: Answers to 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gays and Lesbians, may provide some insight. Marcus, a former producer for CBS This Morning, also wrote Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990. He'll sign his new tome at 7 tonight at People Like Us Books, 3321 N. Clark. It's free, but the book costs $10. Call 248-6363 for details.
The Art Institute has planned a multitude of special events to accompany Chicago Architecture and Design, 1923-1993: Reconfiguration of an American Metropolis, the museum's major exhibition on the development of Chicago architecture since the First World War. Today you can hear an introductory lecture to the show at 12:15 in the museum's Fullerton Auditorium. It's free once you're in the museum. If you'd rather spend the time outside, the Chicago Architecture Foundation has a tour of the Loop that meets outside the museum, at Michigan and Adams, at noon. The $3 ticket gets you into the exhibition afterward. Requested admission to the Art Institute is $6, $3 for students, seniors, and kids. Tuesdays are free. Hours are 10:30 to 4:30 Monday and Wednesday through Friday, 10:30 to 8 Tuesday, 10 to 5 Saturday, and noon to 5 Sunday. The show runs through August 29. Call 443-3600 for more.
Carol Felsenthal, author of the penetrating biography of Washington Post Company capo Katharine Graham Power, Privilege, and the Post--which recently had the honor of being slagged by Graham family toady Arthur Schlesinger in the pages of the New Republic--will be feted tonight at a $37.50-a-head dinner meeting of the Chicago Literary Society. The ticket gets you dinner, a talk by Felsenthal, her book, and a chance to have her sign it. It's at Mareva's Restaurant, 1250 N. Milwaukee. Things get under way at 6:30. Call 973-3523 for info and reservations.
Celebrate on State Street, the annual Loop summer fair, starts at noon today with Mayor Daley, Marshall Field's prez Daniel Skoda, and the current Miss Chicago, Chutie Tiu, unleashing 10,000 balloons. They'll be at the fair's main stage, on State between Washington and Randolph. The festivities, including performances by local bands, more than 200 arts-and-crafts booths, a petting zoo, and food stands, run till 8 tonight and from 10 to 8 tomorrow and Friday on State between Wacker and Van Buren. Admission is free. Call 782-9160 for more.
New York-based performance artist and choreographer Ann Carlson performs for the first time in her native Chicago tonight. Her show, Animals, includes a choir, a kid with Down's syndrome, a dance corps, and a selection of animals, including goats and goldfish. She puts it on at Remains Theatre, 1800 N. Clybourn, at 8 tonight through Saturday and next Thursday through Saturday. Tix are $20, $15, and $10; call 663-1628 for details.
The first annual HotHouse Music Festival will present an impressive melange of musical styles over the next two weekends. Tonight the festival opens with the drum ensemble Redfish, the modern jazz outfit Torque-Tet, and the free-jazz experimenters of the Fred Anderson Trio. Things get under way at 8:30; admission is $7. HotHouse is at 1565 N. Milwaukee. Call 235-2334 for more.