David Attenborough, best known for narrating PBS science documentaries, discusses his latest book, The Private Life of Plants, tonight at 6 at Borders Books & Music, 830 N. Michigan. It's free. Call 573-0564 for details.
All presidential candidates--and their staffs--live in fear of the Great Gaffe, one that can change the course of the election. Newspeople, of course, are always on the lookout for one. "Is changing the course of a presidential election journalism's most heroic act or most heinous crime?" Jim Lehrer, he of the McNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, asks in his new novel The Last Debate, which skewers the religious right, political handlers, and self-important journalists. Lehrer talks about the book at 7 this evening at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th. It's free. Call 684-1300 for details.
Chicago Historical Bookworks, the venerable Evanston rare books outfit, holds an auction of rare Chicago books and political pamphlets tonight. Selections on the block include a copy of the October 18, 1871, Chicago Times (the first issue put out after the fire), an 1842 Illinois Farmer's Almanac, and an early bound edition of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. The auction starts at 8 tonight at the store, 831 Main in Evanston; it's free to watch. Call 708-869-6410.
The gigantic amusement park known as Riverview, which sat at the corner of Belmont and Western up until 1967, is the focus of a slide lecture tonight by historian Chuck Wlodarczyk. His talk, Riverview Park: Gone but Not Forgotten, starts at 8 at the LaSalle Theatre, 4901 W. Irving Park. It's $3, $2 for seniors. Call 904-2704.
Streetwise celebrates its third anniversary with a party tonight at the Diversey-River Bowl; the paper, now published twice a month, boasts a circulation of 120,000 and has just expanded into the suburbs. Unlimited bowling, shoes, food, and one raffle ticket can be yours for $25, $20 in advance. Things get under way at 8. The Diversey-River Bowl is at 2211 W. Diversey. Call 558-1770.
In the past couple seasons Saturday Night Live has been about as funny as a train derailment. Will Second City alums Nancy Walls, David Koechner, Adam McKay, and Tom Gianas help it get back on track? You can find out tonight at the Last Act, 1615 N. Wells, where Second City hosts a party to coincide with the show's season premiere. The party starts at 10, the show at 10:30. There's no cover. Call the bar at 440-4915 for details.
"One of these days, Alice . . . Bang! Zoom! To the moon!" Audrey Meadows recalls what it was like being on the receiving end of one of the most famous lines in TV history this afternoon at a Museum of Broadcast Communications event honoring the 40th anniversary of The Honeymooners. "An Afternoon With Audrey Meadows," hosted by TV critic Gary Deeb, starts at 2 at the museum, located in the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. It's $10; call 629-6023 for reservations.
The Chicago Flute Club welcomes renowned flutist Leone Buyse for a master class and recital tonight at DePaul. A professor at Ann Arbor, Buyse is pursuing a solo career after spending nearly a quarter century performing in orchestras. Her class starts at 5 in the university's recital hall, 804 W. Belden. It's $10. Call 708-405-9530.
On a separate musical note, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform tonight to benefit the workers locked out of the A.E. Staley plant in Decatur. These dozen performers, who play together periodically under the name Solidarity Chamber Players and are all members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 10-208, will perform selections from Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn at 7:30 at Anderson Chapel of North Park College, located at the intersection of Foster and Spaulding. Tix are $35 and $12; organizers say previous concerts have netted a total of $10,000. Call 769-4776 for details.
Mathew Brady may have been the Avedon of his day, but his life ended unhappily; the government attempted to provide for him, but after being struck down by a horse-drawn streetcar, he died crippled and destitute in 1896. You can check out photos of some of his most famous subjects--19th-century presidents, the important Civil War figures, writers, and political activists--at Lincoln and His Contemporaries, the Smithsonian traveling exhibit currently on display at the Harold Washington Library Center. The free show will be up through October 14 in the ninth-floor exhibition hall of the library, 400 S. State. It's open 9 to 7 Monday, 11 to 7 Tuesday and Thursday, and 9 to 5 Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Call 747-4740.
Activists estimate that 3,000 women die from battering in the U.S. each year. To remember those women and observe the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month Friends of Battered Women & Their Children plan to light 3,000 candles on the lakefront tonight. To participate, meet at 6 on the lake at the North Avenue footbridge. The vigil ends at 9. Call 274-5232 for details.
The first Morris the cat died in 1979 at the ripe old age of 19, the second Morris is alive and well and enjoying retirement, and the third Morris, discovered last year at a shelter in the 'burbs, has only just begun to sell cat food. However, his PR agency reports that the picky feline is taking a temporary respite from the tube to concentrate on promoting pet adoptions. To further the cause he makes a free appearance today at 1 at the Tree House Animal Foundation, 1212 W. Carmen. Call 240-2715.
Every Tuesday night at 6:30 the Awakening Center offers a free support group for women with eating disorders. Psychotherapist Amy Grabowski leads the sessions; call her at 929-6262 for more info. The center is at 3166 N. Lincoln, suite 213.
This month's meeting of the Newberry Library's Wednesday Club, a social-cum-scholarly hour, is devoted to beer. Jenny and Steve Dinehart will give a history of the drink and an overview of the brewing process and distribute samples from their very own Chicago Brewing Company. It's at 5:30; admission is $10. The Newberry's at 60 W. Walton; call 255-3510 for more.
The Greenpeace 1995 Great Lakes Boat Tour hits town today to raise awareness about the environmental causes of breast cancer. This morning at 11 their boat, the MV Moby Dick, docks at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, where the group will hold a press conference to publicize a show they've put together of works by Matuschka, the artist whose self-portrait revealing her mastectomy scar has earned her international recognition. The free show is tomorrow night from 8 to 11 at the Fassbender Gallery, 815 N. Sangamon. On Saturday and Sunday you can tour the Greenpeace boat from 2 to 6; that's free too. Call 563-6060.
Chicago-born Budd Boetticher was known in the 50s for his ultra-low-budget oaters, invariably starring Randolph Scott. In October the Film Center takes a look at his career with a Thursday-night series. "Boetticher x 4" starts tonight at 6 with The Tall T, starring Scott as the leader of a bunch of bandits. Tix are $5; the Film Center's on Columbus Drive at Jackson. Call 443-3737.
Through November 26 Steppenwolf is presenting a production of Ntozake Shange's celebrated 70s musical/performance/poetry piece For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Directed and choreographed by Leslie Holland and Lisa Baer, it plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 8 and Saturdays at 2. The museum's at 740 E. 56th Place. Tix are $10, $7 for kids under 18. Call 947-0600, ext. 500.