After play-offs in cities across the country, the National Gaelic Football and Hurling Championships will be decided in Oak Forest this weekend. (Gaelic football is sort of a kinder, gentler version of rugby: you pass and kick a soccer-size ball, but you can't tackle. Hurling is a variant on field hockey.) Teams in five divisions of football and one of hurling will compete today from 2 to 6, tomorrow from 9:30 to about 6, and Sunday from 11 to 6. Sunday's winners will gain international recognition as the North American champions in their respective sports. Admission is $5 Friday, $8 Saturday, and $10 Sunday. The games will take place at Gaelic Park, 6119 W. 147th, in Oak Forest. Call 708-687-9323 for more.
The Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International-USA and the United Nations Association attempt to assess the gravity and scale of local and worldwide environmental problems with Ecology and Human Life, a free exhibit opening today at SGI-USA Center, 1455 S. Wabash. It's open to the public from 6 to 9 on weeknights and from 10 to 9 on weekends through September 17. For further info or additional hours call 913-1211.
The 17th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival has lost its national radio broadcast this year, but that hasn't stopped organizers from booking more than two dozen nationally and internationally known performers to fill up two Grant Park stages. Tonight from 6 to 10 at the Petrillo Music Shell you can catch Kurt Elling, Stanley Turrentine, Cassandra Wilson, and the Jackie McLean/Bobby Hutcherson Quintet. Tomorrow and Sunday the music runs from noon to 10; Saturday's headliners are Henry Threadgill and Eddie Palmieri, Sunday's are John Scofield and Clark Terry. (See Section Three for Critic's Choices on Palmieri, Scofield, and Muhal Richard Abrams Experimental Big Band.) All shows are free. The Petrillo Music Shell is at Columbus and Jackson; the other stage is at Jackson and Lake Shore Drive. Call 744-3370 for details.
You can get up close and personal with the grit and industry of the Chicago River during a Friends of the Chicago River walking tour this morning. The tour, which takes you across five of the city's movable bridges, leaves at 10 from the 18th Street Bridge, between Canal and Clark. The two-hour tour costs $5. Call 939-0490.
If you're having a hard time finding artistically innovative or socially relevant programming on public television amid the John Tesh concerts and those salacious British dramas about nuns who renounce their vows, you might be interested in two programs on WTTW's schedule this weekend. First, the station's weekly series Image Union begins its 17th year showcasing the work of independent film and video producers with a show called "Animated Architecture." The episode, a collection of short films on architecture in Chicago and around the world by architect-animators Mark and Linda Keane, airs tonight at 10 on Channel 11 and gets rebroadcast Thursday at 1:30 AM. Second, lest you forget the meaning of the "labor" in Labor Day, you might want to check out Ties That Bind, a one-hour documentary that looks at recent efforts by American workers to unionize, the obstacles they face, the effectiveness of current labor laws, and proposals for reform of the system. It airs on WTTW tomorrow at 1 PM and reairs Monday at 3 PM. Call the station at 583-5000 for more info.
For its 18th annual event, the Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival has lined up a bunch of folk and bluegrass acts on eight stages, including Mark Dvorak, Kat Eggleston, David Massengill, the Chicago Sacred Harp Singers, Tom Paley, and the Special Consensus bluegrass band. The music provides the setting for two days of related fun, from storytelling to songwriting and vocal workshops to events like tonight's "old-time community barn dance." The fest is from 11 to 6 today and tomorrow in Island Park, which is on an island in the middle of the Fox River in downtown Geneva. Admission is $10 a day, $8 for teens and seniors, free for kids. Call 708-897-3655 for details.
Noting that the southwest-side neighborhood known as Little Village has long been a landing spot for immigrants from all over the world, the Chicago Federation of Labor has chosen Little Village's Piotrowski Park as the starting point for its annual Labor Day march and parade, this year titled "Labor Salutes the Immigrant: Arrival to Citizenship." The kickoff's at 11 in the park, 4247 W. 31st St. It's free. Call 222-1000 for details.
Chinese pop singer Jennifer Guo performs tonight to benefit the Chinese Mutual Aid Association, a Chicago community-service organization. Her show starts at 7:30 at the Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, at Roosevelt and Butterfield in Oakbrook Terrace. Tix are $20 and $35. Call 275-0583 for details.
With its new Tuesday-night series, A History of Censorship in Hollywood, the folks at the Film Center hope to show that not only did the notorious Hays Office censor sex and such from the movies of the 30s and 40s, it also enforced an upbeat portrayal of American ideals and values. The series begins tonight at 6 with a collection of very early risque material, including perhaps the first onscreen kiss (from 1896) and other similarly salacious shorts from the early 20th century. It continues through December 12 with movies like Howard Hawks's 1932 study in sociopathy, Scarface (September 26), the deeply subversive Preston Sturges comedy The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (October 31), and more recent scabrous stuff like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (December 12), the Chicago-made film given an X rating for "general tone." The Film Center is at Columbus Drive at Jackson; admission is $5 per film. Call 443-3737 for details.
In conjunction with its new exhibit Beyond Belief: Contemporary Art From East Central Europe, the Museum of Contemporary Art holds a panel discussion tonight featuring a few of the artists whose work is represented in the show. Moderated by Laura Hoptman, who curated the exhibit, "Economies of Belief: How Art Works in East Central Europe" features Slovakia's Simonova Bubanova Tauchmannova, Poland's Zuzanna Janin, and Romania's Dan Perjovschi, among others. It's at 6:30 in the cafe at the museum, 237 E. Ontario. The talk is free, as is admission to the museum on Tuesdays. Seating is limited. Call 280-2696.
The sixth annual Organic Farmer's Market and Food Festival takes place from 9 to 5 today at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph. Call 708-433-3663 for info.
With the closing of HotHouse, the Guild Complex lost the home base for its long-running series of Wednesday night readings. But now they've announced a permanent relocation to the Chopin Theatre, which also houses Chicago Filmmakers. Their grand opening tonight features Kahil El'Zabar and his dance band Afrocentrix, Luis Rodriguez (accompanied by flamenco guitarist Tomas de Utrera), and performance poets Lisa Buscani and Donna Rose. The show starts at 7:30 at the theater, 1543 W. Division. Admission is $7. Call 278-2210 for details.
To find out the current status of major league baseball you could take in a game at either of Chicago's ballparks, but it might be cheaper just to shell out $30 and hear what Cubs president Andy MacPhail has to say on the topic today at a lunch sponsored by DePaul University's College of Commerce. It starts at 11:30 at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe. Call 362-8584 or 362-8048 for reservations.
Front for real estate speculators or forum for emerging artists--any way you look at it, Around the Coyote officially begins today. With hundreds of visual artists participating, you might need four days to see a significant portion of the work on display. Ground zero is the Damen-Milwaukee-North intersection, where you can check out works in the Flat Iron building and pick up maps and info on all the participating venues. The free fest runs 4 to 10 today and tomorrow and 11 to 7 Saturday and Sunday. Call 292-9497 for details.
One of the many performing-arts events accompanying Around the Coyote is a free 40-minute presentation of comedy, drama, poetry, and song by Nicole Tinnin, Crystal Bush, and Susan McNabb of Justus Sistas, a Rogers Park-based arts-education performance ensemble. They'll perform at 7 tonight, tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division. Call 761-6552.