Poet Adrienne Rich will read from What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, recite, and sign books tonight at 7 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. The event opens the fall season of the Writer's Voice of the Duncan YMCA Community Service Center, which is committed to "demystifying the literary arts" by holding workshops and readings. Tickets are $12 at the door or $5 for YMCA members, students, and seniors. Call 421-7800.
In conjunction with the Newberry Library's current remounting of its 1988 exhibition "King Arthur in Word and Image," the Newberry Consort--the library's early-music arm--performs a cycle of compositions they call The Knights of the Round Table. The Consort features violinist David Douglass, countertenor Drew Minter, and violist da gamba Mary Springfels; William Sharp, a baritone and onetime Grammy nominee for best classical vocalist, performs with them at 8 tonight at the library, 60 W. Walton. Tix are $25 for reserved seats, $20 for general admission; discounts are available for students, members, and seniors. The program repeats tomorrow at the Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake in Oak Park. Call 943-9090, ext. 381, for details.
Avant-garde electronic percussionist Amy Knoles specializes in creating "electronic musical environments" for dance and performance art; most notably, her work accompanied a 1989 Robert Longo exhibit at the LA County Museum of Art. Her solo show Interactive Percussion/Electronics, featuring both live drum music and sampling, hits the stage at N.A.M.E. Gallery, 1255 S. Wabash, at 8 tonight and tomorrow. It's $7, $5 for members and students. Reservations are recommended. Call 554-0671.
God may be in the details, but he's in the fuck-ups as well. According to physicist Aaron Roodman, his free lecture series Great Mistakes in Science: The Difficulties of Experimental Physics "will show how difficult it really is to do experimental science--and how even good people can get tripped up." His case studies include the cold fusion breakthrough that wasn't, and how Nobel Prize winner Leon Lederman discovered the same fundamental particle twice. The series, which was designed for a general audience, starts this morning at 11 and runs weekly through December 10 (there's no November 26 talk) in Room 115 of the University of Chicago's Kersten Physics Teaching Center, 5720 S. Ellis. Call 702-7823 for more.
Since 1994 has been a particularly bloody year in America's abortion wars, Personal PAC--the bipartisan prochoice political action group--is drumming up support with Target Choice '94, an art auction fund-raiser. Works by Karl Wirsum, Margaret Wharton, Julia Fish, Joe Ziolkowski, Risa Sekiguchi, and Susanna Coffee will be on the block at the event tonight, which is at the Oskar Friedl and Ehlers Caudill galleries, both at 750 N. Orleans. The $40 ticket gets you a catalog, drinks at an open bar, and hors d'oeuvres. The silent auction begins at 7:30 PM, and the live one at 9:30 PM. Call 337-8484 for more.
Last year's Rock for Choice benefit featured a wave of local musicians just gaining national notice (Liz Phair, Veruca Salt). This year's offers a possible next wave, including Catherine (who have their first major-label album out on TVT) and the Lupins (who were just signed to RCA), along with the Hushdrops and Hi-Fi and the Roadburners. It's tonight at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Doors open at 5:30 and the show starts at 6. Tix are $8; money raised tonight and at Rock for Choice concerts around the country goes to the Clinic Defense Fund of the Feminist Majority and their abortion-rights lobbying. Call 320-1940 for details.
In British director Gurinder Chadha's first feature, Bhaji on the Beach, a diverse group of Indian women pile into a minibus for a carefree day trip to Blackpool, a kitschy, Coney Island-like seaside resort, where they discover that the troubles they thought they'd left back home in Birmingham have pursued them on holiday. Billed as a comedy for "rude girls," the film makes the case that although "sisters" can occasionally be exasperating, sisterhood is a powerful thing. It plays at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, through Thursday, October 6. Weekday show times are 5:20, 7:30, and 9:40; admission is $7. Call 871-6604.
The cable-access show This Week in Joe's Basement began with content worthy of the title and grew to include everything from bizarre sitcomlike episodes to offerings of penetrating documentary value--as when the production team went out into Hyde Park asking blacks what they really thought about whites and vice versa. Although the last new episode aired in June of 1993, fans can still catch occasional reruns or go to see Beer and Pretzels Theater, opening tonight at the Organic Theater, 3319 N. Clark. According to host Joe Winston the show will include both video and a live ensemble of musicians and actors; new skits and music will develop over the course of the run, and creative uses will be found for videotape of audience members. Tonight's benefit performance at 8 PM is $15 and includes food and beer. The show continues Friday and Saturday nights at 11 through December 31; tickets are $7.50 and $9. Call 327-5588 for details.
For his first nonoperatic production in Chicago, Peter Sellars searched the Shakespearean canon for a text with something to say about the LA riots. In his version of The Merchant of Venice Venice is Venice, California, Belmont becomes Bel Air, the Jews are played by blacks, Portia and her entourage are Asian, and the merchant and his fellow Venetians are Hispanic. Tonight you can hear Sellars explain his thinking at a Goodman Theatre Women's Board benefit. A generous donation of $250 or $150 gets you a buffet dinner, the talk by Sellars in the Art Institute's Trading Room, and a preview performance of the play, which opens October 10 at the Goodman Theatre. For $75 you get the performance only. Things get under way at 5:30; use the entrance at 230 Columbus Drive. Further info is at 435-2770.
In anticipation of National Coming Out Day on October 11, a local group called Out at Work (Or Not) presents Heterosexism in Your Face! tonight at Ann Sather, 929 W. Belmont. The seminar begins with a networking reception at 6:30. The group requests a $5 donation; dinner is available for an additional $7.50. Call 794-5218. If you're not ready to come out at work yet, you can check out Party University, a "hands-on safer sex event," put on by Stop AIDS and Party Productions. At the workshop, which is designed to make healthier sex practices hip, participants will play the parlor game made popular in the three Party plays--a meatier version of Truth or Dare called Fact, Fiction, Fantasy, or Flip. The event is free to the first 100 people; registration starts at 6:30 at Roscoe's, 3354-6 N. Halsted; call 871-3300 for more.
One can't help but wonder how David Habert feels about past city policies that have allowed fly-by-night developers to displace dozens of businesses and leave the Loop spotted with gravel-filled lots. Since he's the city's new director of central-area planning, his opinion actually means something, and he happens to be speaking at a free Friends of Downtown brown bag lunch today at noon in the fifth floor east meeting room of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. His topic is Downtown at the Crossroads--Where Do We Go From Here? Call 726-4031.
Charles Mingus asked Azucena Vega to choreograph his Ysabel's Table Dance for a Carnegie Hall concert in 1976; nearly 20 years later, Vega, now the director of Soul and Duende Spanish American Dance Theater, will reprise that work in a series of concerts at Centre East, 7701 N. Lincoln in Skokie. The show plays tonight at 8 and continues at the same time tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday; there's also a Sunday matinee at 3. Tix are $20, $17 for balcony seats, and $12 for students. Call 708-673-6300 for details.