The New Town-based outfit known as the Smelts bills itself as "a mostly gay and lesbian masters swim team." (The masters appellation refers not to their ages or their expertise, but to their association with U.S. Masters Swimming.) Its annual swimathon, Swim Your Heart Out 5, doesn't happen until February 26, but at a planning party tonight at 6:30 at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted, you can eat, drink, learn how to sponsor a swimmer, and volunteer to help. It's free. Call 509-2940.
The Washington Post Book World called Nicholson Baker's The Fermata "brilliantly, even euphorically successful" in its depiction of a man who has the ability to stop time and uses this talent mostly to fondle women. Others found the whole idea a cheesy attempt to re-create the buzz about Vox. To note the book's paperback publication Baker reads tonight at 7 at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th in Hyde Park. It's free. Call 684-1300.
We'd have called it Lennypalooza!, but Northwestern went with Bravo Bernstein! as the title for its evening of Leonard Bernstein music. The latest in a series of tributes to giants of American musical theater, the event will feature students and faculty members making runs at gems from the Bernstein repertoire, including songs from Candide, On the Town, West Side Story, and Mass. The review plays at 7:30 tonight and tomorrow and at 3 PM Sunday at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 1977 South Campus Drive in Evanston. Tix are $20, $16 for staff, faculty, and seniors, and $9 for students. Call 708-467-4000.
How does a Jungian address breast cancer? In dreams, of course. Tonight at the C.G. Jung Institute Barbara Stone will "share the wisdom that came to her through these images, reframing cancer not as a death sentence, but as an initiation--an opportunity to step into a new stage of life." Her lecture, Cancer as Initiation: Archetypal Aspects of Breast Cancer, starts at 7:30 at the institute, 1567 Maple in Evanston. It's $7. Serious students might be interested in a two-day workshop with Stone this weekend. Call 708-475-4848 for more.
Spectrum, a brand-new treatment center for persons with HIV/AIDS at 1300 W. Belmont, will be open from noon to 5 to accept calls from well-wishers. Sean Strub--publisher of Poz, producer of The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, author of Cracking the Corporate Closet, and a politician who received 45 percent of the vote in a recent New York congressional election--speaks at 3, with therapy and cooking demonstrations before and after. It's all free. Call 880-1460 for details.
Chocoholics watching their fat intake will enjoy Barbara Grunes's new cookbook, Skinny Chocolate, in which she's collected the recipes for 100 desserts that adhere to American Heart Association guidelines for suggested fat intake. Grunes will be giving out samples at a free talk at 5 this afternoon at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, 659 W. Diversey. Call 871-9004 for details.
In her new performance piece, Parallel Worlds, choreographer, dancer, and performance artist Lauri Macklin re-creates the twisted world of her schizophrenic aunt. She also sings and plays the accordion. The piece debuts tonight at 7:30 at Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, and continues on Saturdays at the same time from February 18 to March 25. It's $5. Call 472-3423.
The organizers of last year's gay and lesbian wedding fair at Ann Sather didn't expect lines a block long. This year they're prepared for more than 500 people to troop through the event, at which jewelers, caterers, travel agents, photographers, and florists will help couples plot their course between the traditional and the untraditional. In addition special guests Tess Ayers and Paul Brown will offer tips from their book Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Weddings. The fair runs 4:30 to 7:30 PM at the restaurant, 929 W. Belmont. It's free, but organizers request a $2 donation to Horizons, a social service agency for gays and lesbians. Call 784-6956 for more.
Seven years ago mystery writer Michael Dibdin introduced detective Aurelio Zen in Ratking. In Dibdin's latest book, Dead Lagoon, the British investigator travels back to his native Venice to assist an aging contessa who fears ghosts and to find a kidnapped American. Dibdin reads tonight at 7 at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. It's free. Call 684-1300.
To explain an institution as vital, enormous, and dysfunctional as Cook County Hospital Sydney Lewis, author of Hospital: An Oral History of Cook County Hospital and a longtime associate of Studs Terkel, took a page from the master, interviewing employees across the full spectrum of the hospital work corps--from the highest administrator to the lowliest orderly. As part of a free panel discussion about the future of the hospital, Lewis and a number of hospital administrators will talk and answer questions at 5:30 PM in the lower-level multipurpose rooms of the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. A reception and book signing follows. Call 747-4740. Lewis also appears Thursday night at 7:30 at Barbara's Bookstore, 1100 Lake in Oak Park. That's free too. Call 708-848-9140.
The Film Center's enjoyable romp through the psychological swamp of film noir continues tonight with Billy Wilder's twisted tale of a murder-plot double cross, Double Indemnity, starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. Film theorist Susan Doll lectures after the screening. It's at 6 tonight at the Film Center's theater, Columbus and Jackson. Admission is $5; call 433-3733.
Two very different poets headline a Poetry Center of Chicago event tonight. Roger Mitchell chronicled the life of an Adirondack mill worker in Clear Pond: A Reconstruction of a Life; he's a former editor of the Minnesota Review and a former director of the Indiana University Writers Conference. An interpreter of haiku and Zen koans, Lucien Stryk is the author of Cage of Fireflies: Modern Japanese Haiku and the forthcoming Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter. They read at 6 PM in the Fullerton Auditorium of the Art Institute, Michigan and Adams. It's $5, $3 for students, seniors, and members. Call 368-0905 for more.
A DePaul lecture series on food and culture continues tonight at 6 with Food and Sex in Italian American Culture by Columbia College's Fred Gardaphe and Written on the Tongue: Bodies, Pleasures, and Imagery au Chocolat by Michael Forman of the Rutgers poli sci department. Sounds like something Camille Paglia might enjoy. The series closes next week with Tea and Imperialism in India, Grounds for Criticism: Feminist Coffeehouses, and Fear of Feeling Good: Sugar in American Culture. The talks are free, along with accompanying food samples. It happens in room 154 of the Schmitt Academic Center, 2320 N. Kenmore. Call 362-8246 for info.
In The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History Phil Dixon pays tribute to players who worked in relative obscurity, such as Cool Papa Bell and Smokey Joe Williams, and guys like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, who hit the big time once Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. As part of Black History Month at Robert Morris College, Dixon gives a free talk at 10 this morning in the concourse-level auditorium of the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph. Call 836-4625.
Before there was Wal-Mart there was Goldblatt's, a small dry-goods store that grew into a chain of nearly 50 large discount outlets. One of its founders, Louis Goldblatt, 91, speaks at a Chicago Literary Society dinner tonight at 6 at the Tavern Club, 333 N. Michigan. Cocktails, dinner, Goldblatt's reminiscences, and a chance to buy a signed copy of his book Life Is a Game, Play to Win! are yours for $30. Call 973-3523.