Three key benefactors are responsible for the new Harold Washington Library Poets Room. The Ragdale Foundation's Alice Ryerson Hayes came up with the idea for the room and provided its comfy mission-style furniture. The Union League Civic & Arts Foundation chipped in ten grand for costs. And lawyer Hugh J. Schwartzberg donated more than 4,000 books, magazines, videos, and audio recordings. The room opens today at 2 PM with a reading by Illinois poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks and seven other local poets on the seventh floor of the library, 400 S. State. It's free. Call 747-4740 for details.
Crime and Punishment is the theme of this year's Chicago Humanities Festival, which will examine the current fixation with all things illicit. It begins at 4 this afternoon with journalist and historian Tim Pat Coogan, a noted authority on the Irish Republican Army, who will draw a distinction between Terrorists and Freedom Fighters in a lecture at DePaul's Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo. Today's other festival offering is a staged reading of T.S. Eliot's verse drama about the martyrdom of Thomas a Becket, Murder in the Cathedral. It's performed, appropriately enough, in Saint James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron, at 6:30. Nearly 40 other programs will be held at ten different sites in the downtown area on Saturday and Sunday. Of special note: Yale law prof Stephen Carter, author of Confessions of an Affirmative Action Baby, talks about the influence of race in the American criminal justice system at 3 PM Saturday in the Simpson Theatre of the Field Museum, Roosevelt and Lake Shore Drive. Also, journalist, critic, and clotheshorse Tom Wolfe delivers the festival's keynote address, Crime and Moral Fever in the 1990s, at 10:30 AM Sunday in Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan. Tickets for these talks and most other festival events are $3. Call 939-5212 for a complete schedule. To purchase tickets, call Orchestra Hall's box office at 435-6666.
The 14th annual Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival kicks off tonight with an opening gala that includes two new movies. The first is the feature-length Apart From Hugh, director Jon FitzGerald's portrait of a foundering relationship. It's paired with Raoul O'Connell's short about collegiate sexual frustration, A Friend of Dorothy. The gala starts at 6 with a champagne reception at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport; it costs $8. The fest continues through November 20 at both the Music Box and Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division. Tickets cost $5-$6, $4-$5 for matinees. For a summary of this week's offerings, see the movie listings in Section Two or call the festival's hot line at 384-0605.
Randolph Street Gallery is quietly making its current home its permanent one. The red-sequined art gallery and performance space near the intersection of Odgen, Chicago, and Milwaukee has made arrangements to buy a one-half stake in its building. Grants for the purchase total $340,000; now the gallery has to almost match that amount on its own. It's starting tonight with Homemade, A Housewarming Benefit, a buffet dinner and art sale. The focal point of the sale will be ten boxed sets of limited-edition artworks by Antonio Muntadas, Adam Brooks, M.W. Burns, Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg, Daniel Martinez, Thompson Owen, and May Sun. There's also a silent auction of other desirable foofaraw. The fund-raiser takes place tonight from 7:30 to midnight at the gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. Tix are $35, $60 for couples. Call 666-7737 for reservations.
Organist Stan Kann got his start as a musician at the age of 14; a few years later he was featured on a radio show broadcast nationally over NBC from a Saint Louis restaurant. A guest on the Tonight Show 77 times, Kann has been the house organist at the Fox Theatre in Saint Louis for the last 22 years, which he claims is the longest-running gig in North America. Kann will play the pipe organ and accompany the 1928 Laurel and Hardy silent Should Married Men Go Home? today at 2 at the Patio Theatre, 6008 W. Irving Park. Kann will also be showing off his strange sideline as a collector of gadgets, particularly vacuum cleaners. A sing-along will close out the afternoon. It's $8, $7 if you buy a ticket in advance. Call 282-0037 for more information.
Billed as the "end of the millennium irregular poetry magazine," the four-year-old literary journal Hammers releases its ninth issue this month. Publisher Doublestar Press will mark the occasion with a reading at 7 tonight at Barnes and Noble bookstore, 1701 Sherman in Evanston. A selection of the issue's 49 contributors (about half from the Chicago area) will be on hand. Admission is free. Call 708-328-7555 for details.
"My personal sexual revolution will come when I do what I really want to do sexually, don't do what I don't want to do, let others do what they want to do, with a whole heart," concludes Sallie Tisdale in her book-length essay Talk Dirty To Me: An Intimate Philosophy of Sex. The author raised a ruckus when she wrote about pornography in Harper's magazine a couple of years ago. In this book Tisdale powers through America's sexual preoccupations with an open mind and rigorous reasoning. She appears tonight at 7:30 at Barbara's Bookstore, 3130 N. Broadway; it's free. Call 477-0411.
Art historian James Miller talks about the currrent crop of AIDS activist art, and the entrenched hatred of gays revealed in images from mainstream movies and religious pamphlets, in a lecture titled Escape From Doom Town: The Iconography of Homophobia, at noon today in room 613 of UIC's Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. It's free; call 996-3595 for details.
The Chicago chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild is offering a workshop tonight on legal protections for artists. Slicing the Infinite Pizza is the rather enigmatic name for this class on how to register a copyright, write up a contract, transfer reproduction rights, and negotiate with prospective employers. The workshop, hosted by guild prez Michael Hays, runs from 7 to 9:30 tonight at the Three Arts Club, 1300 N. Dearborn. Admission is $15; call 761-7292 for more.
Don Crabb is perhaps Chicago's busiest computer geek. Most people know him as a columnist in the Sun-Times, but he's also a producer of TV and radio shows, the director of institutional computing and a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Chicago, a prolific author, and--like most sensible people--something of a Macintosh partisan. Crabb will be signing copies of his latest book, the Guide to Macintosh System 7.5, as well as demonstrating Apple's new feature-heavy operating system, from 1 to 2 this afternoon at the University of Chicago Bookstore, 970 E. 58th. It's free. Call 702-8729 for details.
Berthold Goldschmidt was a rising young composer and conductor in Germany in the years before Hitler. But in 1933 the 30-year-old Goldschmidt was fired from his job as artistic adviser to the Berlin State Opera after being labeled as a "degenerate" composer. Sixty years later he's recognized as a major musical figure of the period. Tonight the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies and the Goethe-Institut team up to present a performance of the Goldschmidt String Quartet No. 2 at the North American debut of the Mandelring Quartet, an acclaimed young ensemble from Hamburg. The concert's at 7 at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 618 S. Michigan. Tix are $10, $6 for students and seniors. Call 322-1769 for details.
The world is divided into two parts: those who love public transit and those who don't. The former will be overjoyed to hear that author Bruce Moffatt will be giving a slide lecture on the 87-year History of the Ravenswood L tonight at 7 at the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln. Admission is free. Call 744-7616 for more information.
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless holds its annual fund-raising concert tonight at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. This year's event features perennial supporter Bo Diddley plus three classic Chicago bluesmen and their bands: Billy Branch, Son Seals, and Junior Wells. Hope Fest includes lots of music, dancing, a buffet, silent auction, and a cash bar. Tickets are $30; doors open at 6:30. Call 435-4548 for details.