By Bill Wyman
The toadying young Republicans who carry about Tocqueville's landmark study Democracy in America in emulation of their leader, Newt Gingrich, must not have gotten to the part about majority rule's potential oppressiveness--the sort that develops when a government goes after civil rights and free speech. To learn more about the Frenchman who's the author of the moment on Capitol Hill, you might want to attend Tocqueville and Revolution, a free talk by Joseph Alulis, an instructor at the University of Chicago's Center for Continuing Studies. It starts at 12:15 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 702-1722 for more info.
Swiss photographer Robert Frank is probably best known for the unblinking outsider's view of the country expressed in his collection The Americans. But he's also a respected avant-garde filmmaker; besides his seldom seen Rolling Stones tour documentary, Cocksucker Blues, he's created mid-length experimental films for decades. A series of this work put together by the Film Center begins tonight with Frank's first film, Pull My Daisy, a half-hour adaptation of Jack Kerouac's play The Beat Generation, narrated by Kerouac and starring Allen Ginsberg. Tonight's program, which also includes the 1983 film This Song for Jack and 1961's The Sin of Jesus, begins at 6. Admission is $5. The series continues through June 23 at the Film Center, Columbus Drive and Jackson. Call 443-3737 for details.
Futuristic jazz big-band leader Sun Ra's space-age virtuosity and otherworldly philosophizations are being celebrated by a group of Chicago musicians known as Saturn Research Arkestra. Directed by saxophonist Vandy Harris Jr. and featuring Jodie Christian, Malachi Favors, Bob Griffin, Boaz McGhee, Afifi, Aye Aton, and the Reader's own Maia, the group will play both Ra's works and new ones inspired by him tonight at 7 in the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph. It's $15, $12 for seniors. Call 493-2487.
Knowing how much one weekend street fair would screw up traffic in Lakeview, neighborhood organizers figured why not do it right and decided to schedule two. The Central Lakeview Fest shuts down Belmont between Sheffield and Clark from noon to 8 today and tomorrow. Call 868-3010. Slightly west of that, the Rock Around the Block fest will shut down Lincoln north from Belmont to School from noon to dusk Saturday and noon to 6 Sunday. Call 472-7171. Organizers of each fair request a $3 donation.
Walter Mosley, author of the Easy Rawlins mystery series, which traces the adventures of an amateur detective in postwar LA, is among the stars of the 11th Annual Printers Row Book Fair. His new novel--his first nonmystery--is said to involve "the blues as an expression of black poetry and tragedy." He reads at Dearborn Station, 47 W. Polk, at 1 today. The fair itself runs on Dearborn from Congress south to Polk, from 10 to 6 today and tomorrow. It's free. Other featured speakers include NPR's Linda Wertheimer, U.S poet laureate Rita Dove, and novelist William Wharton. For a complete schedule call 987-9896.
Liz Belile, who graced the poetry stage at last year's Lollapalooza and has a new spoken-word album, Your Only Other Option Is Surgery, out on SST--is one of three west-coast writers reading at Quimby's Queer Store today. Nicole Panter, one of the creators of Pee-wee Herman's TV show, and novelist Peter Plate round out the bill. The free reading starts at 3 at the store, 1328 N. Damen. Call 342-0910 for more.
The women's quartet MAD-M holds a reading this afternoon at Cafe Voltaire featuring performances of poetry and short fiction by its members--Mary Lass Stewart, Angela Sorby, Dawn Marlan, and Maureen McLane--who are all associated with the Chicago Review literary magazine. David Grubbs, maestro of the local bands Bastro and Gastr del Sol, provides musical accompaniment. It's at 4 at the cafe, 3231 N. Clark, and admission is $5. Call 324-5873.
If you're looking for a piano, the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University is selling some that they've used for a year, including Kawais, Steinways, and other models. The sale is today from 11 to 5 on the ninth floor of the school, 430 S. Michigan. For more info or a preview appointment call 341-6375.
Three lesbian mystery writers converge on the Women & Children First Bookstore today. Sandra Scoppettone (My Sweet Untraceable You), Ellen Hart (A Killing Cure), and Sarah Dreher (Bad Company) read at 4 at the store, 5233 N. Clark. It's free; call 769-9299 for more.
Kiss of the Spider Woman--The Musical, the Garth Drabinsky production that opened two weeks ago at the Chicago Theatre, is about the balance between the personal and the political, embodied by two captives in a South American prison. That age-old dichotomy comes up most often today in the debate over AIDS--a very personal disease has taken on immense political overtones--so it seems appropriate that Kiss of the Spider Woman cast members are lending their talents tonight to raise money for the AIDS service agency Open Hand Chicago. The fund-raiser in question--a cabaret of Broadway songs and material written just for tonight's show--starts at 8 at Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Tickets are $25. Call 849-2111 for more.
Live Bait Theater's salute to Jackie O began last month with Of Diamonds and Diplomats, Edward Thomas-Herrera's adaptation of the memoirs of Kennedy-era White House social secretary Letitia Baldrige. It continues tonight with a new show, Dear Jackie, featuring tributes to the late icon by the likes of performance artist Lisa Buscani and novelist Robert Rodi. Dear Jackie runs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 through June 27. Tickets are $8. Wednesday at 7 at the theater, 3914 N. Clark, Andrew Patner moderates a panel discussion on Onassis and her impact on American culture. It's free. Call 871-1212 for more.
Zebra Crossing Theatre's celebration of gay pride month--a monthlong festival called Show of Strength: A Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Performance--begins tonight with a reading by Outlines columnist Dominic Hamilton Little. "Fey Q & A: A Farewell With Reading and Responses to Your Intimate Queries" starts at 8 at the theater, 4223 N. Lincoln. The series continues this Wednesday and next with a new play by Claudia Allen, Raincheck; other notable events include this Thursday's Wide Open Mike, hosted by Paula Killen, and Queer 101 Film Festival, curated by Kurt Heintz, on Thursday, June 22. All shows are $8; call 248-6401 for a complete schedule.
Due in stores around June 20, Fish Stories is a new literary magazine dedicated to "traditional and experimental fiction reflecting the diversity of American literature." It holds a fund-raiser tonight featuring the ska band the Howards and performance artist Michael Brownstein. It starts at 8 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. Tix are $10. Call 334-6690.
The first woman to head the United Nations' World Food Programme, Catherine Bertini, will be in town today to deliver an insider's view of the food needs of the poor around the world and talk about the current debate in Congress over foreign aid. Feeding the Poor: Are We Facing a Global Crisis? starts at 5:30 at the University Club, 76 E. Monroe; tix are $22, $12 for members of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, which sponsors the event. Call 726-3960.
Chicago broadcast veteran Jim Conway, who spent more than five decades in local radio and television, recaps his career tonight at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Grist for his anecdote mill includes his 1952 radio show Shopping With the Missus, his 50s television show In Town Tonight, which featured guests such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and his morning TV show's circa 1965 visit to Hef's Playboy mansion. Hosted by museum chief Bruce DuMont, An Evening With Jim Conway starts at 6 at the museum, located in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. It's $10, free to museum members. Call 629-6023 for info or reservations.
According to the folks at the Safer Pest Control Project, recent studies have linked insecticides with childhood brain cancer, soft-tissue sarcoma, and perhaps learning disabilities and behavioral problems. If you think this is more than just another environmental scare story, you might want to attend the group's free lecture on how to control pests without the use of toxins. It's at 6:30 this evening in room 303 of the Douglas Library at Chicago State University, 95th and King Drive. Call 641-5575 for more.
Performance artist Robert Metrick's long-awaited musical drama The Enunciation (What the Oxen Said) opens tonight. Aspiring to combine the worlds of "postmodern corporate office center, suburban mall, and dank medieval cathedral" and "somewhat inspired" by the works of 12th-century abbess Hildegard of Bingen, the show runs Thursday through Saturday at 8 for the next three weekends at Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division. Admission is $10. Call the show's cosponsor, N.A.M.E. Gallery, at 554-0671 for reservations.