The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence fetes Abner Mikva at a dinner tonight. Mikva, who was named by Jimmy Carter to the D.C. Court of Appeals over strident opposition from gun-nut groups and currently serves as special counsel to Bill Clinton, will receive the group's Lincoln Award for his longtime support of gun-control measures at a $74-a-plate dinner at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 S. Michigan. Things get under way with a 5:30 reception. Call 341-0939 for more.
In a swipe at Hizzoner's occasional incoherence, this year's Gridiron Show is dubbed Pulp Diction or How to Succeed in Politics Without Really Talking; other targets allegedly include Mel Reynolds, Michael Jordan, and Liz Phair. Channel Two's Lester Holt and Larry Mendte host. Tickets are $17 and $25; proceeds go to the Headline Club's scholarship fund for aspiring journalists. It's at 8 PM tonight at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Call 201-8700 for tickets.
The half dozen novels of Jane Austen, Eudora Welty reminds us, "required nothing more than the familiar. Given: one household in the country; add its invaluable neighbor--and there, under her quickening hands, is the full presence of the world." Illinois and Indiana Austenites meet today as their chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America convenes for a daylong series of discussions from 8:15 to 4 PM at the Guildhall of the Ambassador West Hotel, 1300 N. State. Admission--$48, $45 for members--gets you lunch as well. Call 708-677-1554.
You might not have known that today is Geoffrey Fushi Day in Chicago, nor even who the heck Geoffrey Fushi is. Turns out he's a partner in the world's largest violin firm, Bein & Fushi Rare Violins, and a cofounder of the Stradivari Society, a group dedicated to getting good violins into the hands of talented young artists. One such artist, Corey Cerovsek, will help Fushi demonstrate a priceless 17th-century Stradivarius at a benefit tonight for the Chicago String Ensemble. A cool $100 gets you a four-course dinner, the demonstration, and a chance to bid on the goods being sold at an accompanying charity auction. It's at 5:30 in the Red Lacquer Room of the Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe. Call 332-0567 for details.
Herb Jeffries, whose warbling of "Flamingo" in front of Duke Ellington's orchestra turned out to be one of the biggest pop hits of all time, and Ellis Marsalis, the great New Orleans pianist who's also the father of jazzmen Branford and Wynton, headline tonight's Tribute to Duke Ellington at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. The evening starts at 6. Tix are $40 and include the performances as well as a reception; call 734-2000 or 667-2707.
Regular readers of Gay Chicago know that Jack Rinella is the magazine's resident leather expert, and we're not talking upholstery here. The author of such columns as "The Masters Manual" and "Leather Views" will provide advice for both beginners and experts on sado-masochism, leather, and fetishes in general at a Leather University of Chicago seminar from 9 to 11 tonight. Registration starts at 8 at the Chicago Eagle, 5015 N. Clark. Admission is $2. Call 878-7517 for more.
You can heighten your social life tonight at a meeting of the Paramount Tall Club of Chicago. The group welcomes men six-foot-two and up and women five-foot-ten and up to their spring membership dance at the Sheraton Suites, 121 Northwest Point Blvd. in Elk Grove Village. It's at 8 and costs $4 if you're not a member. Call 853-0183.
The annual Hike for the Homeless and the Hungry today in Evanston raises money for seven local service organizations. Registration begins at noon in Raymond Park, at Chicago and Lake in Evanston. Evanston mayor Lorraine H. Morton and state rep Jan Schakowsky will speak at 1; the three-mile lakefront trek begins at 1:30. Call 708-864-6845 for information.
Three Fantagraphic cartoonists congregate at Quimby's Queer store today from 2 to 4 to sign their comics: Seattle's Peter Bagge, who produces the comic called Hate, Chicago's Terry Laban of Cud fame, and Chris Ware, whose strip appears in New City. Quimby's, which says it's the city's largest retailer of zines and adult comic books, is at 1328 N. Damen. Call 342-0910.
If you don't catch editorial cartoonist Tim Jackson's work in Streetwise and N'digo, you can catch it at the Woodson Regional Library's third annual showing of his work. Jackson has an Afrocentric angle to his work that's missing from most editorial cartoonists, who are of course almost exclusively white; one of his cartoons shows a Republican elephant leading children away from a shut-down arts center and into the hand of a smiling white NRA representative. The free show's up through June 1. The library, 9525 S. Halsted, is open 9 to 9 Monday through Thursday, 9 to 5 Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 5 Sunday. Call 747-6910.
Sadly, the current debate on gambling in Chicago is less about whether we should have gambling than about who's going to be making the money when it gets here. Loyola poli-sci prof John Pelissero and philosophy prof Al Gini take a step back today and talk about the political and ethical ramifications of the issue at a free roundtable discussion. Gambling on Gambling: Riverboats in Chicago starts at 5:30 this evening in Kasbeer Hall on the 15th floor of the school's downtown campus, 25 E. Pearson. Call 508-8019 for more.
"Landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock," writes Simon Schama, author of Citizens and Dead Certainties, in his new Landscape and Memory. He gives a free reading today at 4 PM in the Oriental Institute's Breasted Hall, 1155 E. 58th. Call the Seminary Co-op Bookstore at 752-4381 for details.
Visual Madness: Perception of Mental Illness in Popular and High Culture, a series of films and lectures put on by the University of Chicago Film Center, kicks off tonight with Victor Sjostrom's 1913 silent film Ingeborg Holm. Sjostrom is a key figure in early Swedish cinema, and the film, in which the title character is driven mad when her children are taken from her, is considered one of his seminal works. The film, which starts at 7, will be shown with piano accompaniment; afterward center director Miriam Hansen leads a discussion. It's free, but capacity is limited to 100. Call 702-8596.
Chicago's Winifred Haun & Dancers hit the stage tonight with a pair of collaborators: composer and bass clarinetist Gene Coleman and New York singer and dancer Theo Bleckmann. Somatic Larynx Waltz starts at 8 at Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division. Tix are $6, $3 for members. Call 384-5533.
The Art Institute is trying to jazz up happy hour. From 5:30 to 8 this evening you can browse the galleries, drink, and sample hors d'oeuvres while the Steve Hashimoto Trio plays on the grand staircase. The museum's series of after-work mixers continues May 25 with the Latin jazz of Suenos and June 15 with Hashimoto again. It's $10, free to members. The Art Institute is at Michigan and Adams; call 443-3600 for details.
For 60 years the School of the Art Institute has presented an annual student fashion show. This year's model, Fashion 95, at which 52 design students show off more than 100 outfits for men and women, is spread over two days; tonight's tonier event--a $75-per-person affair with proceeds going to the school's fashion department--kicks off with a 6:30 PM reception. Tickets for tomorrow's performances at 2 and 7 are $15 to $25. It's in the Great Room at the school, 112 S. Michigan. Call 899-5092 for reservations.
Novelist Jane Smiley reads from Moo, the academic farce that follows up her Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres, tonight at 7:30 at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Avenue. Call 57th Street Books at 684-1300 for more.