Behind the Times: Inside the New York Times, the new book from intrepid New York magazine media correspondent Edwin Diamond, follows Abe Rosenthal successor Max Frankel as he attempts to modernize the paper with spirit intact and finds the going--over the rapids of gender and race politics--rather rough. Those who find the paper's stodginess tiresome will find much to gloat about in this book. Diamond will recount some of its juicier stories at a talk at the downtown Kroch's and Brentano's, 29 S. Wabash, at 5:30 PM. It's free. Call 332-7500 for more.
The Chicago Moving Company--Nana Shineflug's modern dance outfit--is premiering two new works tonight. The first is On Surviving, which combines dance with magic tricks and music from Dead Can Dance, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, and local multiinstrumentalist Winston Damon. The second, Egypt, consists of four parts, based on the elemental notions of earth, air, fire, and water. The show plays tonight and tomorrow and next Friday and Saturday at 8 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, 4730 N. Sheridan. Tickets are $12, $8 for students and seniors. There are also low-priced ($4) matinees for kids, seniors, and the disabled Tuesday and Thursday at 10 AM and noon. Call 271-7928.
Get the visitors' perspective on the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 from three professors and a photographic scholar at this morning's program at the Chicago Historical Society, Clark and North. Experiencing the Fair will look at, among other things, "how photographs reveal people's thoughts about the fair" and "what people actually did when they went to the fair," say organizers. It runs from 9 to 12:30 in the Rubloff Auditorium. Admission's $5, $3 for members, seniors, and students. Call 642-4600.
John McEuen was one of the mainstays of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; now he's a folkie journeyman who's backed up Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs. His show of stories and songs is paired with those of Mohican Indian singer-songwriter Bill Miller for a 7 PM concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage. Tickets are $11-$15; call 525-7793 for more.
Former New Yorker Lisa Kotin, the performance artist and quondam mime best known for Temporary Girl, her multimedia extravaganza on the art of temping, is presenting a new show in her new hometown. Miss Diagnosis combines monologues and short films to give a portrait of one woman's overinterest in sugar, men, and medical attention. It premieres tonight at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, at 8. Tix are $6. Call 384-5533.
"Seeing things 'change for the better,' real estate investors identified Wicker Park as a good place to make money," contend the folks at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee. "They bought buildings cheap, rehabilitated them, and turned around and sold them for hundreds of thousands of dollars to white, urban professionals. This is gentrification." The two groups are sponsoring a discussion on gentrification at the HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee, today from 4 to 6:30. Admission is $4. Call 278-6706 for more.
You can tailgate indoors at the Cafe Brauer's fifth annual Zooperbowl today. The snazzy Lincoln Park Zoo gathering place at 2021 N. Stockton will bring out hot dogs, beer, popcorn, and large-screen TVs for its Super Bowl-watching party; the $40 ticket benefits the Lincoln Park Zoological Society. Things get under way at 4. Call 935-6700 for more.
Three of the country's premiere bread makers--Franco Galli of Il Fornaio in San Francisco, Daniel Leader of New York's By Bread Alone, and Joe Ortiz of Gayles Bakery in Capitola, California--will be at a bread-making workshop and dinner presented by the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food. The three-hour event, titled Bold Fresh Loaves, starts at 5 PM today at the Corner Bakery, 516 N. Clark; it repeats tomorrow night starting at 6, same place. It costs $40, $30 for American Institute of Wine and Food members, and you must register in advance. Call 977-4468.
Chicago's annual one-night jazz convention--as the Chicago Jazz Institute likes to think of its Jazz Fair--starts at 6 tonight at the Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan. Your $15 ticket ($12 for members of the jazz institute, less if you buy it in advance) gets you a walk on the "jazz midway" of merchants' and artisans' booths, a seat at some vintage films, and of course entrance to the shows, which run throughout the evening. They include the Ellington Dynasty orchestra (6, Crystal Ballroom), Torque-Tet (6:45, Embassy Room), the Jazz Masters (7, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase), Gregorio Aguirre's Caribbean Bop Band (8:45, Crystal Ballroom), the Larry Gray Quartet (9:15, Hubbard Room), and the Willie Pickens Trio (9:30, Jazz Showcase). There's also a night-closing performance by the Jimmy Walker Blues Band just around the comer at Buddy Guy's Legends, 745 S. Wabash, starting at 10. Call the institute at 427-1676 for more info.
The White Sox' Caravan Tour is a week of player appearances in Illinois and Indiana that lead up to the annual SoxFest at the Hyatt Regency next weekend. Today at 11, players Joey Cora, Julio Franco, and Ozzie Guillen are scheduled to appear at the Skydeck entrance of the Sears Tower, 233 S. Wacker, for a free autographing session; Alex Fernandez, Michael Huff, and announcer Ken Harrelson will make a free appearance Thursday at 11:30 in the Chicago & Northwestern atrium of Union Station, at Clinton and Adams. There'll be more autographing sessions, plus memorabilia for sale and activities for kids, at the official SoxFest, which runs next Friday through Sunday, February 4 through 6, at the hotel, at 151 E. Wacker. Hours are 5 to 9 PM Friday, 11 AM to 7 PM Saturday, and 10 AM to 5 PM Sunday; admission is $10 a day. Call 831-1769 for details.
If you have nothing to do on Groundhog Day--and, hey, our schedule is pretty open--you've got two alternatives. At 10:30 this morning the Brookfield Zoo, at First Avenue and 31st Street in Brookfield, will be taking a look at their groundhogs, whom they call Sunshine and Shadow and bill as "intrepid mammal meteorologists." Admission to the zoo is $4, $1 for kids and seniors, plus the $4 parking fee. Call 708-485-0263 for more. For something a little racier, check out the Circuits Nightclub; it's hosting a show tonight by one Samantha Martin, who specializes in training animals. Tonight her "Amazing Acro-Rats" will, she says, jump through hoops, answer the phone, and even bowl before she brings out Warner Woodchuck (that's just another name for groundhog) to make his predictions on the end of winter. It's at Circuits, 4355 N. Cicero, starting at midnight. Cover is $1. Call 777-6368.
The heat against gangsta, rap is getting turned up as parents, women, and political groups attack certain rappers' sociopathic attitudes toward things like women and guns. The Guild Complex at the HotHouse explores the issue tonight with Da Real Boom Bap, an evening of music and talk. There'll be performances by Thirteenth Tribe and the Slick Boys, plus a panel discussion featuring Bobby Sox, from the hip-hop store Triple XXX; sometime Reader contributor Rosalind Cummings; and your humble Calendar writer, dba Hitsville. Things gets under way at 7:30 at the HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee. Cover is $5, $3 for students. Call 278-2210.
Hanan Al-Shaykh is considered the Arab world's leading female writer of fiction; she's known in America primarily for the novel Women of Sand and Myrrh. Now her 14-year-old work The Story of Zahra has finally been published in the U.S.; it's about a woman's life amid the chaos of Beirut. Al-Shaykh reads from it at the New Town Barbara's, 31W N. Broadway, at 7:30. It's free. Call 477-0411.