Carlos Fuentes, like a lot of other foreign figures but curiously few Americans, has credibility in both the political world and the literary one. While in Chicago this week, the Mexican author cum critic cum politician leads a discussion of the current political doings in his homeland. The talk's today at 11 AM at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, 1852 W. 19th St., and costs $10. Call 738-1503 for details. Later, at 6, he'll read from his work in the Rubloff Auditorium of the Art Institute. For $5 you get Fuentes and the chance to hear him interviewed by Friedrich Katz, a Latin American history prof at the U. of C. The Art Institute's at Michigan and Adams, but use the Columbus Drive entrance. Call 987-4378 for more.
John Jesurun, an internationally known multimedia theater artist, has unusual proficiency in both writing and stage technology. His new piece, Slight Return, uses actors and real-time video to examine the last hours of an offstage character. The piece, Jesurun's Chicago debut, will be performed tonight and tomorrow and next Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22, at 8 at the Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. It's $10, $6 for members and students. Jesurun also lectures on his work Wednesday, October 19, at 7 PM. That's $5, $3 for members, or free with purchase of performance tix. Call 666-7737 for reservations.
In 1968 Chicago wise guy Tony "the Tuna" Accardo built a house in River Forest with most of the features considered essential for mob living: restaurant-size kitchen, walk-in vault, and hidden gun racks. A few years ago, he died of natural causes. Today and tomorrow from 10 to 5 furnishings from the house, including a circular banquet table that seats 70, will be sold to the public. FBI agent turned crime author Bill Roemer plans to attend the sale, which happens at the house, 1407 N. Ashland in River Forest. Admission is free; it's not an auction, but prices are negotiable. For crowd-control purposes, shoppers will be admitted in order of entrance numbers that will be distributed starting at 9 each morning. Call 951-9800 for more.
Howard Wolinsky and Tom Brune--two of the AMA's blackest betes noires--wiped out a good chunk of the association's leadership in 1990 with their Sun-Times expose; in their book The Serpent on the Staff: The Unhealthy Politics of the American Medical Association, they contend that the association is more concerned with maintaining the power and financial rewards of its membership than with providing good health care for Americans. Today at 2 they'll sign copies and discuss their work at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. It's free. Call 684-1300 for more.
In his capacity as host of NPR's popular Afropop Worldwide program, Georges Collinet has introduced listeners across the country to some of the coolest of the modern sounds emanating from Africa. At a party from 8 PM to 1 AM tonight in the main hall of the Field Museum, Roosevelt and Lake Shore Drive, Collinet and his producer, Sean Barlow, who goes under the name Prince Segue Segue, will spin discs and lead the crowd in African dances. Playing live will be Chicago's own Dhamba 8, a world beat band that incorporates everything from Nigerian juju to New Orleans jazz. The $20 ticket ($15 for museum and 'BEZ members) includes snacks and special after-hours admission to the museum's Africa exhibit. Drinks will be available from a cash bar. Call 460-9381.
Harvey Pekar, the dour voice of the comic book series American Splendor, and his wife, Joyce Brabner, a journalist and activist, have collaborated with artist Frank Stack on a new book called Our Cancer Year, which details their experiences during Pekar's bout with chemotherapy in an illustrated nonfiction narrative similar to Art Spiegelman's Maus. The pair will be in town to talk about their book today at 3 at the Hyde Park Kroch's & Brentano's, 1530 E. 53rd St. It's free. Call 288-0145.
The Hemlock Society of Illinois, the group that believes people facing painful terminal illnesses should have doctor-assisted suicide as an option, holds its annual dinner at 5 tonight at the Evanston Holiday Inn, 1501 Sherman in Evanston. The event features a talk--A Medical View of Physician-Assisted Suicide or Going My Way--from Hemlock-USA's medical director, Dr. Richard MacDonald. It's $30 for the dinner or free just to hear MacDonald speak at 7:45. Call 477-7228 for details.
People who've made it in Hollywood will tell you how it's done tonight at a seminar hosted by AFTRA/SAG Conservatory, the education arm of the two major performance unions. The panelists include Missing Persons creator Gary Sherman, screenwriters Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue, and actors Dennis Farina and Michael Gross. They'll be talking and answering questions from 6:30 to 9:30 in the ballroom of the Midland Hotel, 172 W. Adams. It's $25, $15 for members. More info is at 371-8081.
While the tireless linguistic scholar and political philosopher Noam Chomsky is in town this week to receive the 1994 Loyola Mellon Humanities Award, he's making a couple of personal appearances. Tonight at 7:30 in the Illinois Room of the Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted, he'll deliver a free talk called "21st Century: Democracy or Absolutism." Call 486-3551. Tomorrow he's at the auditorium of Loyola's Skyscraper, 6363 N. Sheridan, at 8 PM for a talk called "Manufacturing a New World Order: Containing Crisis at Home and Abroad." Finally Wednesday at 2 he'll receive the award (given in previous years to Studs Terkel and George Solti, among others) and give an address in the auditorium of Loyola's Edward Crown Center for the Humanities, 6565 N. Sheridan. Both Loyola events are free. Call 508-3730.
The plays of Tony Kushner--imaginatively done but rigorously constructed on the old-fashioned theatrical verities of beautiful writing, crystalline dialogue, and elegant characterization--take on everything from personal relationships to political hegemony. He'll be signing copies of them at People Like Us Books, 3321 N. Clark, from 4 to 5 today; call 248-6363 for more on this free event. At 7:30 tonight at the University of Chicago's Mandel Hall, 5706 S. University, he lectures on theater's role in addressing social and political issues. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and theater professionals. For $35 you can attend the lecture and meet the playwright at a postlecture reception. Call 753-4472.
Struggling as a sculptor, Douglas Coupland started writing for magazines to make ends meet. The results of his labors--Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture--either captured the scent of a generation or simply coined an evanescent buzzword, depending on your point of view. He's talking tonight at 7 at Northwestern's Norris University Center, 1999 South Campus Drive. Tickets are $5. Call 708-491-2381.
Since the troupe's demise, former Monty Python member Terry Jones has kept busy writing weird movies like Labyrinth, directing funny ones like Personal Services (about a bordello), and even authoring a study of Chaucer. The idea for his newest project, Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book, sprang from a famous early-19th-century British photograph of a girl said to be surrounded by fairies. Although the whimsical book, a mock diary with "scholarly" annotations, contains a "facsimile of a real pressed fairy," the publishers insist that "no fairies were injured or killed" during its manufacture. The author will be signing copies of this cruelty-free book at the downtown Kroch's & Brentano's, 29 S. Wabash, at noon today. It's free. Call 332-7500.
The local experimental group Wormwood--Eric Leonardson, Dylan Posa, and Spencer Sundell, all vets of the Chicago experimental music scene--have a new "soundplay" they call The Indifferent Immensity of the Natural World, which they describe as a mix of industrial, improvisational, and ambient music with all sorts of detritus on top, including invented instruments, radio sounds, and synthesizers. Further tarted up with abstract video by local filmmaker Jeff Economy, lighting design by Christiaan Pretorius, and visits by special musical guests, the show plays tonight and tomorrow at 8 at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division. Tix are $8, $6 for students, seniors, and members. Call 384-5533 for details.