The beat generation first got national attention in 1955 with the publication of Allen Ginsberg's starving-hysterical-naked Howl, but its historic catalytic meeting came at Columbia University 11 years earlier, when Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs met. The 50th anniversary of that meeting sees the publication of Ginsberg's newest collection of poetry, Cosmopolitan Greetings, his first since White Shroud in 1986. He reads at Barbara's Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells, at 1 PM. It's free. Call 642-5044 for details.
The title of a conference this weekend, Ritual Child Abuse: Disclosures in the 80s, Backlash in the 90s, pithily captures the uneasy status of this heinous crime in the public mind. By the same token, the name of the sponsoring group, Believe the Children, gives you an idea of where the organizers of the conference are coming from. Doctors, social workers, cops, and those who say that it happened to them will be meeting at the Arlington Park Hilton, 3400 W. Euclid, Arlington Heights, today through Sunday. Registration begins at 4 and is $60 to $195 depending on how much of the conference you plan to attend. Call 708-515-5432 for more.
The Mayor's Office of Special Events estimates that 200,000 people will soak up the soul-stirring, leg-shaking, mind-melting singing offered up by more than a dozen groups from Chicago and around the world in the city's annual Gospel Fest. The shows take place today and tomorrow. The first sets, from noon to 4:30, are on the so-called "early stage" at Jackson and Lake Shore Drive in Grant Park. The evening shows, from 5 to 10:45, are in the Petrillo Music Shell, at Jackson and Columbus. Saturday's headliners are the Winans, Sunday's are the Mighty Clouds of Joy. It's all free; for more, call 744-3315 or 744-3370.
In the Deep Heart's Core: a Mystic Cabaret is an evening of musical renditions of the poetry of William Butler Yeats, composed and performed by folkorist and singer Joseph Daniel Sobol. The show is performed tonight at the Second Unitarian Church, 636 W. Barry, at 8 PM. For tickets, which are $10, call 549-0260. A second show is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at 3 at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox. Tix are $8. Call 282-7035 for tickets or 508-5953 for details on either show.
Buried in beautiful Graceland Cemetery are secrets and stories, strife, and intrigue. A tour of the site sponsored by the Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association promises some good ghost tales. It starts at 1:30 today at the cemetery's entrance, at Irving Park and Clark; your guides are history writers Richard Bjorklund and Patrick Butler. It's $7.50; call 744-7616 for more information.
If you like the sounds and smells of the rodeo but can't get near a horse, you can show your support on your own two feet tonight at the
Snake in the Heart is a compilation CD of work by the most notable performers on the local spoken-word scene. It's the first recording issued by Tia Chucha Press, which is the publishing company connected to the Guild Complex, which is the literary-events arm of the late, lamented Guild Bookstore. Got that straight? Anyway, the lineup on the CD includes poetry and performance from the likes of Patricia Smith, David Hernandez and Street Sounds, Cin Salach & the Loofah Method, Rohan Preston, Circadian Rhythm, and the complex's own Michael Warr. Hear many of these performers live at a party tonight at Red Dog, 1958 W. North, from 7:30 to 11. It's $8; you can also join the complex, get the CD, and attend the party for $40. Call 278-2210 for details.
So it's only June but plenty of kids are already looking forward to Halloween, no doubt. Ministering to this little-recognized need is one of Chicago's premier ghost hunters, Richard Crowe. The originator of the Chicago ghost cruise is giving a free talk today at the Cultural Center. In "Halloween Ghost Hunt," Crowe will talk about the holiday's origins in the ancient and the spiritual and explain the various meanings of Halloween masks and costumes. It's in the center's theater, at 78 E. Washington, at 5:30 PM. Call 346-3278 for details.
If you're interested both in history and some of the more unsightly forms human disease can take, check out flakes, scabs, and sores of the 19th century in "Skin Disease, 1860-1884," the latest exhibit at the International Museum of Surgical Science. Since treatment back then was not as sophisticated as it is today, the 25 color lithographs illustrate some pretty gruesome conditions. The show's up on an open run at the museum, 1524 N. Lake Shore Drive. It's open Tuesday through Saturday 10 to 4, Sunday 11 to 5. Admission is free. Call 642-6502.
Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu hits town today to pick up the "World of Children" award from a group called the United States Committee for UNICEF/Chicago. Richard Attenborough will present the award, after which the archbishop will speak at a benefit luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware. It's at 11:30; tickets are $85. (There's a $200 ticket that gets you a VIP session as well.) Call 670-2379 for details.
It wouldn't make sense to have the Chicago International Children's Film Festival programmed by adults, which is why the organizers of the upcoming 11th edition are looking for some discriminating youngsters to fill its children's jury. Duties include spending two weeks in August critiquing short and feature-length movies from more than two dozen countries. Auditions for kids 6 to 9 run from 1:30 to 4 today; kids 10 to 13 audition at the same time on Thursday. The auditions take place at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton. Call 281-9075 to sign up.
The Kirishima International Concert Hall in Kagoshima and the Isar Bueropark in Munich are two of the constructions that got architect Fumihiko Maki the 1993 Pritzker architecture prize. Today he'll be speaking in the Rubloff Auditorium of the Art Institute. It's $15. Enter at the institute's east entrance, at Columbus and Jackson. Things get under way at 6 PM. Call 443-4751 for more.
Apparently there's not a damn thing Chicago won't throw a parade for. Latest entry: the World Cup. In the Parade of Nations floats representing the 24 participating countries, their respective teams, and their hooliganish fans will trundle north on Michigan from Balbo to Randolph, led by a bunch of big inflated soccer balls. Things start rolling at 10 AM. It's free. Call 744-3315.
The city's gay and lesbian task force is holding an open meeting tonight to let anyone air any gripes they might have on the role the city should take on anything having to do with matters gay and lesbian. The meeting of the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relationships Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues is at the offices of Operation PUSH, 930 E. 50th, at 6:30 PM. It's free. For details, call 744-7911.
Given (a) the current tension between blacks and Jews and (b) the contributions a certain Chicagoan has made toward maintaining that tension, it's appropriate that a couple of Chicago funnymen are trying to diffuse the situation, at least for an evening. Aaron Freeman, comedian, actor, and TV and radio personality, and Maynard Wishner, businessman, community leader, and comedian, are teaming up tonight for An Evening of Black and Jewish Humor. It's free at the Chicago Historical Society, Clark and North, starting at 6:30. Call 642-4600 for details.
If you think the phrases "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed" and "his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes" bracket one of the funnest books e'er published, you're probably already preparing to celebrate Bloomsday, the anniversary of the event-filled 24 hours in which Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus crisscross Dublin in James Joyce's Ulysses. Scholars place it on June 16, 1904; today, Joyceans gather to read from the text and drink. It's at the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood on the University of Chicago campus from 7 to 9 PM. Call the sponsoring liquor company at 615-780-3334.