After Chet Walker starred for the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers in the early 1970s--and won a championship with the latter--he moved over to Hollywood to produce movies and TV shows. His latest movie is Charles Burnett's The Glass Shield. Now with University of Illinois professor Chris Messenger, he's written Long Time Coming: A Black Athlete's Coming-of-Age in America, a memoir of his basketball days and a look at the sometimes tense relationship of race and sports. He reads from the book tonight at 7 at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. It's free; call 684-1300. Walker also appears tomorrow at noon at Borders Books & Music, 830 N. Michigan. Call 573-0564.
Performance artist Lawrence Steger's latest work, an ensemble piece called The Swans, takes as its central characters Ludwig II, a fanatical admirer and patron of Wagner who ascended the Bavarian throne in 1864 at the age of 18, and Gilles de Rais, a onetime marshal of France and member of Joan of Arc's special guard renowned in medieval times as an arts patron, alchemist, and amateur Satan worshiper. The spectacle Steger makes out of these two lives--with music by Rich Coddington, set design by Mary Brogger, and video by Patrick Siemer--can be seen for the next two weekends at Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee. It plays at 8 PM Friday and Saturday nights; tickets cost $10. Call 666-7737.
"Boys kissing boys! Girls kissing girls! It's all here and it's all homo-riffic!!!" That's how the Neo-Futurists are announcing their fourth annual "pride" edition of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Tonight through Sunday the ensemble promises that the 30 plays it'll do in 60 minutes will all have gay themes. Shows are at 11:30 tonight, 9 and 11:30 tomorrow, and 7 PM Sunday. Tickets are $4 to $9--the usual $3 plus the roll of a die; the Neo-Futurarium is at 5153 N. Ashland. Proceeds from Saturday's early show benefit the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Call 275-5255.
The folks who bring you the annual Peace & Music Festival at Cricket Hill are raising money for this year's show with a four-hour cruise on Lake Michigan today. Forty bucks gets you food (donated by the likes of Ann Sather and Ben & Jerry's), drinks, and music from Ralph Covert, the Deadbeats, and Janitors of Rhythm, formerly Dhamba 8. The good ship Musette I boards at 12:30 at the south bank of the Chicago River between State and Wabash. Call 252-9150 for info or reservations.
A triple opening at the Wood Street Gallery this afternoon offers kites, aboriginal "dream paintings," and depictions of women in sports. The kites are part of the gallery's second annual Kite Invitational, led and curated by master kite maker Frank Crowley, who'll be flying kites every Sunday through July 23 in Grant Park. The free opening reception for all three shows runs from 4 to 8 today at the gallery, 1239 N. Wood. Call 227-3306.
The Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade--the annual event commemorating the riot at the Stonewall Inn in New York that started the modern gay-rights movement--takes off at 2 PM from the corner of Halsted and Belmont. Its route runs north on Halsted to Broadway, south on Broadway to Diversey, and then east into Lincoln Park. It's free. Call 348-8243 for info. After the parade you can stay in Lincoln Park and hang at the postparade rally or head down to the Theatre on the Lake for a dance benefiting Howard Brown Health Center and the gay and lesbian rights project of the ACLU. Singer Nicki French will perform, and DJ David Knapp will spin dance music. The party goes from 4 to 10. Tickets are $15 at the door and $10 in advance. Call 871-5777, ext 391.
Illinois Action for Children says that in Cook County an incredible 500 children a month are removed from their homes because of parental abuse. You can help the group take care of them by attending A Night at the Second City. Thirty bucks gets you a buffet, a raffle, a silent auction, and a performance by Chicago's best-known comedy ensemble. It's at 6:30 at Second City, 1616 N. Wells. Call 986-9591.
Tonight at 7:30 Cloud 42 brings its all-male take on The Women back to the Park West, 322 W. Armitage, for one final show. The play is Clare Boothe Luce's 1936 gals-only dissection of what lay beneath the feminine mystique: plots, plots, and more plots. The Cloud 42 version--not a dragfest--features men dressed as men reading the female roles, scripts in hand. The $18 ticket includes a free drink at the cocktail hour that precedes the show at 6:45. Call 348-0773.
The Sweat Offensive--hey, sounds yummy. Actually, it's just the latest perspiration-inspired performance night from Pretzelrod Productions. The first--I'm Sweating Under My Breasts--was the distaff version; it probably should have been called "I'm Glowing Under My Breasts." The newest one--the boy's side of things--features Jimmy Doyle, Bill Ellison, Peter Greenberg, John Hildreth, Gregg Mierow, and Phil Ridarelli. It's playing Monday nights at 8 through the end of August at the Organic Theater Greenhouse, 3319 N. Clark. Admission is $7; call 868-4620.
Chicago rockers Poi Dog Pondering--the ever-evolving Austin transplants who've become a muscular live attraction in town--headline tonight's free massive 'XRT show in Grant Park. The bill also includes Timbuk3, the laconic Texas band known for the song "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades." It's at 6 tonight in the Petrillo Music Shell, Columbus and Jackson. Call 481-9978 for more. Right after the show those hep cats at AT&T present a laser light and sound show featuring "a range of rock stylings, appealing to everyone from Boomers to Generation X." That starts at 9, and it's free as well.
A quartet of some of the biggest stars of third-world pop hits the Skyline Stage tonight. The lineup includes Senegalese pop-rock star Baaba Maal; the Haitian band Boukman Eksperyans; Nigeria's Femi Kuti, son of Fela; and Mali's reigning pop diva, Oumou Sangare. (Peter Margasak gives the show the Critic's Choice treatment in Section Three.) An Old Town School of Folk Music presentation, it starts at 7 at the Skyline Stage on Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. Tix are $18 and $21. Call 525-7793..
If you find the heat and, um, odors of Taste of Chicago less than appetizing, today on Navy Pier you can eat and drink under less trying circumstances--and benefit a good cause. At Sippin' on the Dock of the Lake, a benefit for the Chicago Fund on Aging and Disability, nearly 100 booze and wine producers (e.g., Jim Beam, Mumm Champagnes, Stolichnaya) and more than a dozen restaurants (e.g., Carlucci, Erwin, Michael Jordan's) will proffer their wares. Thirty bucks gets you all you can eat and drink from 6 to 8 in the ballroom of the pier, 600 E. Grand. Call 744-2120.
Since its founding 90 years ago in Chicago the Industrial Workers of the World has always had a large space in its utopian vision for music: hence the Wobblies' Little Red Song Book: Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent, whose 36th edition was released on May Day. Tonight at HotHouse they're holding a "90th anniversary bash and songbook release party." Performers include Icemakers of the Revolution, Kristen Lems, Kathleen Taylor and Carol Mason, Bucky Halker, Jeff Dorchen, and Pat Jones. It starts at 7 at the club, 1565 N. Milwaukee. Admission is $7. Call 549-5045.
In essay collections like Sex Tips for Girls and If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet? Cynthia Heimel has documented the great boyfriend crunch, clarified who's allowed to wear black, and explained the art of diaphragm insertion--not to mention the hapless thousands she's saved from law school, cheating boyfriends, and impulse shopping as the Village Voice's Problem Lady. Tonight she reads from her latest, If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?, at 7:30 at Barbara's Bookstore, 3130 N. Broadway. Call 477-0411.