Around the Coyote inches further toward the mainstream with a benefit show tonight featuring, of all people, Herbie Hancock. The jazz keyboardist will be joined by vocalists Gil Scott-Heron and Lalah Hathaway, saxophonist Gerald Albright, and others. Tix are $40; for $65 you can see the show and hang at a postshow buffet with the musicians and organizers of the Wicker Park arts fest, scheduled for September 7 through 10. The show starts at 7:30 at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Call 292-9497 for more or 559-1212 for tickets.
"Summer Shorts"--two evenings of one-acts in rotating rep--opens tonight at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. The first leg of the show, Still Life, includes one-acts by Chicago author and performance artist Richard House, Neo-Futurist Greg Allen, and Harold Pinter. Forced Perspective, the second leg, opens tomorrow night and includes works by Gertrude Stein, Carl Laszlo, Daniel MacIvor, and Pinter and an adaptation of a Kenneth Bernard short story by Diana Slickman. All shows are at 8; tickets are $7 for one show or $10 for both. Devotees of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind need not fear; that show continues Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 and Sundays at 7. For more detailed info see the theater listings in Section Two or call 275-5255.
If you're bummed about the plight of HotHouse, which closes down this weekend without a new home in sight, you can say good-bye to the club's old location, 1565 N. Milwaukee, and help contribute to its moving expenses by attending a farewell show tonight featuring a collaborative performance by master West African musician Hassan Hakmoun, multiinstrumentalist Adam Rudolph, and percussionist Hamid Drake. Testimonials and farewells from HotHouse regulars and friends get under way at 8; the music starts at 9; tix are $15. Tomorrow evening the farewell continues with an avant-garde jazz jam session headed by tenor saxophonist Ernest Dawkins and featuring Edward Wilkerson, Fred Anderson, and other members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. That show starts at 9, and tix are $12. For more info see Peter Margasak's Critic's Choice on Hakmoun in Section Three or call 235-2334.
For the main event at this year's Bughouse Square Debates James Wall of the Christian Century Foundation and former Republican mayoral primary candidate Larry Horist will address the topic "The Contract for or on America?" Folksingers and poets will start warming up the crowd at noon, soapbox debates kick off with an intro from Studs Terkel at 1:30, and the main event starts at 4 today in Washington Square Park, across from the Newberry Library. Admission is free, and the crowd is encouraged to challenge the participants. The accompanying Newberry Library Book Fair, which was open to the public from noon to 8 yesterday, continues from 10 to 5 today and from noon to 5 tomorrow at the library, 60 W. Walton. Call 255-3510 for more.
Randolph Street Gallery's annual benefit for its magazine P-Form, this year christened Circus Jerkus, includes art, performance, and music by Matthew Owens, Rennie Sparks, Blair Thomas and the Redmoon Theatre, Julie Laffin, and many more. Your hosts are singer-poets Example: None; the banjo 'n' drums duo called Twang Bang plays at midnight. Admission is $9, $7 for members. It's at 8 at 756 N. Milwaukee; call 666-7737.
"Growing up smart in an increasingly dumb world" is the theme of Baby Richard's Got Back, or It's Not Easy Being Bob Greene, the 15th revue by the Second City sidekick ensemble known as Second City E.T.C. The cast includes John Hildreth, Dee Ryan, Aaron Rhodes, Brian Stack, Miriam Tolan, and Jim Zulevic; the show opens tonight at 8 and continues Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8:30, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and 11, and Sundays at 8. Tix are $10 Sunday through Thursday, $12 on Friday, and $15 on Saturday. Second City E.T.C. is at Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells; call 642-8189 for more.
Two lit events tonight: first up, NPR commentator and novelist Andrei Codrescu reads from his second fiction work, The Blood Countess, at 7 tonight at Waterstone's, 840 N. Michigan. It's free; call 587-8080 for more. Then at 8 at Barnes & Noble, 659 W. Diversey, Patricia Monaghan gives a free talk about her lifetime of research on female deities. Subsequent editions may have to include Roseanne (the "domestic goddess") and Judy Tenuta (the self-styled "goddess in progress"), but for now her massive inquiry into this field, The Book of Goddesses and Heroines, includes only about 1,500 goddesses of times long past. Monaghan will also talk about and sign an accompanying work, O Mother Sun! A New View of the Cosmic Feminine. Call 871-9004 for more.
Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal believe that the journalist and former Black Panther, who's convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer, deserves a new trial, and to help prevent the state of Pennsylvania from executing him on August 17 they're holding a march and rally today at noon at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph. Call 554-0005 or 663-6300 for more.
A press release from a local organization called Take Our Neighborhood Back notes with more than a touch of reproach that while some 27.5 million Americans took part in last year's "A Night Out Against Crime," Chicagoans failed to observe the event. This year the group hopes to see people get with the program. To protest gangs and crime they're asking folks to meet tonight at 7 at Avondale Park, 3516 W. School, and march to Kosciuszko Park, 2732 N. Avers, for a rally. It's free; call 772-2633 for more info.
Cast on a Hot Tin Roof, the Free Associates' improvisational homage to Tennessee Williams, celebrates its fourth birthday with a special performance tonight at 8:15 at the Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington. The $10 ticket includes a slice of birthday cake. Call 975-7171.
The Guild Complex--which has relocated to Pangaea, 233 W. Huron, in the wake of HotHouse's closing--marks this Sunday's 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima with My Story Began Before I Was Born, a video/performance piece by Mariko Ventura-Flood that incorporates text from Jean Baudrillard's America and Ventura-Flood's memories of growing up in occupied postwar Kyoto and her emigration to the U.S. She's accompanied by percussionist Andre Marquetti, performer Amy Ambrose, and movement artist Andrew Fearnside. The evening starts off at 7:30 with an open mike devoted to poems on peace. Admission is $5, $2 for open mikers. Call 278-2210 for more.
With Navy Pier finally reopened to good reviews, the pier's deputy general manager, Jerome Butler, meets with the Friends of Downtown today to take a look back on how the renovation unfolded. His free presentation starts at noon in the fifth-floor meeting room of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 726-4031 for details.
Eartha Kitt, who's been nominated for the Tony, the Emmy, the Oscar, and the Grammy but remains best known in many circles for her portrayal of Catwoman on TV's Batman, headlines an Illinois Federation for Human Rights fund-raiser tonight at the Skyline Stage on Navy Pier. Suzanne Westenhoefer, the lesbian comic whose most recent show is called Nothing in My Closet but My Clothes, opens. Tix are $35. If you shell out $100 you get to attend a preshow champagne reception with Westenhoefer; $250 gets you that and a postshow soiree with Kitt herself. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand; call 477-7173 for details.