A student from Cuba will give what looks to be an inside if slightly propagandistic view of Cuba today. Kenia Serrano Puig, a 21-year-old member of the University Students Federation and the Union of Young Communists, speaks at 6 PM in the University of Illinois at Chicago's lecture center F-3. Enter through the Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted. Call 278-5942 for more.
You can get an overview of one of the most artistically fecund periods in the history of American popular music this weekend as Facets Multimedia presents two hour-long musical documentaries. In Elvis '56 filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond look at the singer's pivotal year; the film uses digitally remastered recordings of songs from the period, TV and film footage, and photographs taken by Presley pal Albert Wertheimer. It's narrated by the Band's Levon Helm. Also on the bill is Sweet Home Chicago: this 1993 film by the same documentarians draws on interviews with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, and Chuck Berry to tell the story of Chess Records. The films are being shown on video at 7 and 9:15 tonight and tomorrow and at 5:30 and 7:45 Sunday. It's $5, $3 for members; Facets is at 1517 W. Fullerton. Call 281-4114.
Tonight at the Uptown gay bar Big Chick's proceeds from an unofficial cover charge go to Queer Nation, the radical group that calls attention to gay rights through "direct action," i.e., high-profile, sometimes controversial stunts. It's from 8 to 11:30 tonight, though the bar's open till 2; the donation can be much as you want. Big Chick's is at 5024 N. Sheridan; call 202 -5482 for details.
Today at the Newberry Library a panel of experts tells the story, centuries in the making, of the typeface Eusebius, created in 1470, hailed for its beauty, and only recently digitized for use in computers. The person who brought it into the computer age, Chicago typographer Paul Baker, and a passel of other local designers and fans will tell the tale at 10 today at the library, 60 W. Walton. It's free. The event accompanies the free exhibit The Caxton Club: A Century of Books and Bookloving, on display through April 22. Call 255-3700 for more.
Streetwise has a new executive director, Anthony Oliver, and a change in editorial direction; both will be introduced at an open house today from 1 to 5 at the paper's offices, 60 E. 13th. Call 554-0060 for more.
Paintings, sculpture, photos, drawings, music, videos, and Louis Armstrong's personal memorabilia make up Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy, a multimedia portrait of the great jazzman that opens today at the Terra Museum of American Art and remains up through June 25. The museum, 666 N. Michigan, is open 10 to 5 Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 Sunday, and noon to 8 Tuesday. It's closed Monday. Admission is $4, $2 for seniors, and free to members, children, students, and educators. Tuesdays are free. Call 664-3939 for more.
For those who can't get enough of the O.J. Simpson trial TurnAaround Theatre captures each week's highlights in The O.J. Trial, Live! The group, which writes and rehearses a new script each week, promises to keep the show running "as long as the trial runs." Performances are Saturdays at 11 PM and Sundays at 7 PM at the theater, 3209 N. Halsted. Tix are $11; part of the proceeds goes to Family Rescue, a service agency for abused women and children. Call 296-1100 for more.
The Real Darren Stephens, the latest offering from the Free Associates, the improv gang who brought you Cast on a Hot Tin Roof, doesn't attempt to judge the relative merits of Dick York and Dick Sargent. It's a spoof of 70s talk shows like those of Dinah Shore, Mike Do Douglas, and Merv Griffin. The show's last preview is tonight at 7 at the Ivanhoe, 750 W. Wellington. Tix are $6; the price goes up to $8 when the show opens for real next Sunday, April 23. Call 975-7171 for details.
If you've always known that the comeback of John Travolta was only a matter of time, you'll be interested in the Chicago Cultural Center's "Monday Night Fever" dance party tonight. You bring the platform shoes; they'll provide the music, namely Johnny Vegas and the Disco Inferno. It runs from 5:30 to 7 in Preston Bradley Hall at the center, 78 E. Washington. It's free. Call 346-3278 for more.
The University of Illinois at Chicago's Outre Poetry Festival continues tonight with an appearance by Buffalo, New York, poet Susan Howe; a two-time National Book Award winner and a professor at the State University of York at Buffalo, she's a noted experimental poet whose work "explores history and language and history in language." She appears at 6 this evening in the rathskeller of the student residence hall at 700 S. Halsted. It's free. Call 413-5070 form more.
You can see the Oscar-shunned Hoop Dreams, hear one of its creators speak, and toss some money to the mental-illness agency Thresholds at Piper's Alley Theatre tonight. Thirty dollars, $25 in advance, gets you the movie and a session with Frederick Marx, one of the film's producers and editors. Things get under wayat 7; Piper's Alley is at North and Wells. Call 472-4581 for more.
The Chicago Artists' Coalition says good-bye to its home in River North tonight with a fund-raiser tonight at 7. The group's 5 W. Grand home is being vacated to make way for a microbrewery/pub, and to raise money for the move they'll show new installations by Mark Grba and tapestry, paintings, and sculpture by Dana Hokin, Todd Parola, Zuleika, Ian Crowley, Don Elmi, and Lourdes S. Guerrero. It's $10. Call 670-2060 for more.
Members of the Court Theatre are taking a break from their demanding rotating repertory productions of Tom Stoppard's Travesties and Moliere's The Misanthrope to hang out at Barbara's -Bookstore tonight. Troupe members will do readings from both plays and take questions at 7:30 this evening at the Old Town Barbara's, 1350 N. Wells. It's free. Call 642-5044.
Chicago's Schoolhouse Rock Live!--the long-running musical that brought back the kid-vid series and great tunes like "Three Is a Magic Number" and "Conjunction Junction"--heads to New York this summer, no doubt hoping to follow the successful path laid down by The Real Live Brady Bunch. They've got two upcoming events planned to raise money for the trip. At tonight's fundraiser $50 gets you a light dinner, live music, a performance of the show, and a three-hour cruise on Lake Michigan. Passengers must be on board the Spirit of Chicago by 6:45; reservations recommended. If you can't that make event, you may want to check out an April 22 concert at th--e Bop Shop with jazzman Bob Dorough and Joanie Pallatto and Sparrow. The show's $30 in advance and $35 at the door and includes a silent auction with all sorts of nice offerings. It starts at 6 PM at the club, 1807 W. Division. Call 202-4543 for details on both events.
The first Sondra Gair Memorial Lecture--a talk on international affairs in honor of the late 'BEZ host--features Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, a professor at Haifa University. He'll speak on "The Israeli Psychology and Identity After Peace" at 6 PM in the Max Palevsky Cinema in the University of Chicago's Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th. It's free. Call 702-8356 for more.
In an often hostile world the parents of many homosexuals will stand up and support their sons or daughters. Scott Peck's father chose not to. During the debate over Bill Clinton's attempts to halt the military's persecution of gays, Colonel Peck publicly said his gay son shouldn't be allowed in the military. The younger Peck, author of All-American Boy, will talk about those tumultuous days at Borders Books and Music, 830 N. Michigan, at 7 tonight. Call 573-0564 for details.