Free Berkeley Radio founder and champion of information access Stephen Dunifer leads a workshop on building your own microradio station today at the Loyola Radio Conference. The conference's theme this year is "building community through radio." The keynote speaker tonight is Alexander Cockburn, media critic and columnist for the Nation. The conference runs through Saturday and includes seminars on free speech, ethnic programming, and grant writing. Registration is $75, $50 for college students, $30 for high school students. Dunifer's workshop at 1 and Cockburn's speech at 7:30 are open to the public; each requires a separate $5 admission. All events are at Loyola's Crown Center Auditorium, 6525 N. Sheridan. Call 508-3727.
Fans of beer and taxidermy may want to check out the Field Museum of Natural History's autumn beer tasting fund-raiser and learn the subtle differences between stouts, pilsners, lagers, and ales while grooving to the Irish music of the Pauline Conneelley Group. Nonalcoholic beer will be on hand for 12-steppers, and attendees, who must be at least 21, will be able to view parts of the Africa and Egypt exhibits. It's $15 for members, $20 for everyone else. The event starts at 5:30 at the museum's Stanley Field Hall, Roosevelt at Lake Shore Drive. For more information call 322-8871.
Cofounder of the United Farm Workers Union Dolores Huerta speaks about labor struggles and women's issues tonight as part of the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum's monthlong tribute to Mexican women. Cesar Chavez called her "totally fearless, both mentally and physically." She is the union's first vice president and has been a labor organizer for 30 years. The event is at 7 at the museum, 1852 W. 19th. Tickets range from $6 to $10. Call 738-1503.
Children and their parents can see how dancers warm up at the dance bar and meet the recently relocated Joffrey Ballet of Chicago dancers today as part of the Magic City Family Week-Ends program. There will also be a preview performance from the group's holiday production and workshops, ranging from beginning ballet to applying stage makeup, for children ages 9 through 15. It's all free, but registration is recommended. The performance is at 11; workshops begin at noon. The event takes place at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 744-1612 for more information.
Ever wonder whether it's OK for police to lie to a suspect to get a confession? Or how the teetotaling, Chicago-accented NYPD Blue cop Detective Sipowitz ended up in New York? Today's the time to ask. Chicago-bred actor Dennis Franz, who plays Sipowitz, along with the show's cocreator David Milch and consulting producer Bill Clark, will sign copies of True Blue: The Real Stories Behind NYPD Blue at Borders Books and Music, 1540 Golf Road, Schaumburg. Maybe they'll explain that whole police brutality thing while they're at it. It's free and begins at 2:30. Call 708-330-0031.
Vaudeville meets Rush Limbaugh and the Psychic Friends Network as performance artist extraordinaire Paula Killen unveils her new character, Niagara Falls (a bank teller, clown, and patriot with delusions of grandeur), in tonight's premiere of her interactive show Niagara Falls: Straight to the Top. The public can pose questions to Niagara at the show, by phone (404-8292), or via the World Wide Web (http:\\www.tezcat.com\fdoor.); she'll answer selected queries (and take song requests) during the performance, which will be her last as a Chicago resident. The show runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 7 through December 17 at the Famous Door Theatre Company, 3212 N. Broadway. Tickets are $15. Call 404-8283.
On the advice of doctors jazz legend Miles Davis began drawing after a stroke in 1980 paralyzed his right hand, making him unable to continue playing the trumpet. The art therapy worked: Davis began playing again. But he also continued to paint and draw. A collection of his artwork, ranging from representational to abstract (and including a serigraph of Josephine Baker), is on display today. It's the largest showing of his art since he died in 1992; originals and graphics will be on sale. The exhibit is free at the Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus, from 1 to 10. Call 565-8000.
Sarah's Circle served 9,356 meals to some 600 homeless women at its drop-in center in Uptown last year. Tonight's fund-raiser is a 1970s dance party that will include prizes for the best polyester glad rags, a raffle, and a buffet. It's at Paris Dance, 1122 W. Montrose, and begins at 4. Tickets are $10; two for $18. Call 728-1014.
Just in time for the short, cold, gray days of November, a group of slack-key guitar masters from Hawaii bring their distinct twang to Chicago for the Hawaiian Music and Dance Festival. Featured masters Ray Kane and Keola Beamer headline the fete, which also includes George Kahumoku Jr. and the Ku'u Aloha Hula Dancers, who will interpret the music through dance. Shows are at 4 and 7 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage. It's $16 for the public, $14 for members, and $12 for seniors and children. Call 525-7793.
Avoid making the same mistake as the Supreme Court's former chief justice Warren Burger, whose heirs may owe some $450,000 in estate taxes and fees. The Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Public Library present a free discussion today on wills and estate planning, led by an experienced attorney and followed with a question-and-answer session. It's at 12:15 at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State. Call 747-4090.
Dressing up your pets and taking their picture isn't just fun, it's art. If you're William Wegman, that is. The world-renowned photographer's portraits of costume-clad weimaraners poke fun at the human condition. Wegman will lecture and show slides of his work as part of the School of the Art Institute's semester-long series "Art as Dramatic Comedy." It's tonight at 6 at the school's auditorium, 280 S. Columbus. Seniors and students with ID get in free; it's $3 for nonstudents. Call 443-3711.
A recent House bill that would prohibit not-for-profit recipients of federal grants from lobbying, suing, or doing advocacy work makes today's brown-bag discussion, The Impact of Congressional Budget Cuts on Nonprofits, very timely. Topics include an overview of the political climate and advice to nonprofits on how to cope with budget cuts and find alternative forms of funding. It's sponsored by the Social Service Communicators and takes place at noon at the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, 1001 N. Dearborn. It's free for SSC members, $15 for nonmembers. Call 280-2850.
Teachers are encouraged to bring groups of students to the Guild Complex's free open mike for student writers. Students in the Young Chicago Authors program will read from selected prose works, and other students will also be allowed to read. It's at 6:30 at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division. Call 278-2210.
You'd think the two would be mutually exclusive, but the Renaissance Business Associates presents the first in a series of lectures on spirituality in business. Tonight's lecture by Fortune 500 consultant Joseph Robinson is called Rediscovering the Soul of Business: Spirit at Work and takes place at 7:30 at Old Saint Patrick's Church, 122 S. DesPlaines. A donation of $7 is suggested. Call 395-0915 for more.
It's recycling at its most literate, er, literal. The South Shore library holds its annual fall book sale starting today and continuing through November 18. There will be "tons" of books, as well as magazines, posters, and records. Most of the items are donated; proceeds will be used to--you guessed it--buy more books. Prices start as low as 25 cents. It's free, from 9 to 7 today at the South Shore branch of the Chicago Public Library, 2505 E. 73rd. To donate, or to find out more, call 747-5281.
Participants in tonight's panel discussion, Art and the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, will discuss their experiences at the women's conference in China, including how they overcame obstacles put up by the Chinese government and, more specifically, the conference's significance to women in the arts. It's free at 7:30 at ARC Gallery, 1040 W. Huron. Call 733-2787.
Excitotoxins like MSG and aspartame can kill nerve cells, according to neurosurgeon Russell L. Blaylock, coauthor of the book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. He will give a talk titled Food Additives: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, sponsored by the Nutrition for Optimal Health Association. It's at 7:30 tonight at the North Shore Hilton Hotel, 9599 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Admission is $10, free to NOHA members. Call 708-786-5326.
Reader contributor John Corbett and local music critic Art Lange join horn player Douglas Ewart from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and saxophonist Evan Parker to examine post-1960s improvised music as part of a week-long festival saluting the European record label Free Music Productions. Today's free performance and discussion take place at 12:15 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Call 744-6630.
Who hasn't thought about chucking it all and joining the circus? But it's not as easy as you may think--first you have to go to college. Clown college, that is. To get in, the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus is holding clown auditions, their version of the SAT entrance exam. You don't need previous clowning experience, but improvisational ability, timing, and a desire to be a clown are a plus. They're also looking for female dancers with (surprise!) a background in dance. The free tryouts are today and next Thursday at 4 at the Rosemont Horizon, 6920 N. Mannheim, in Rosemont. Call 649-0466.
Local author Yvonne Zipter's work ranges from poetry to nonfiction to humor, and her syndicated column Inside Out can be found locally in Outlines. Her newest book, Ransacking the Closet, is a collection of humorous essays that include her insight on such subjects as lesbian parenthood, dating, and the lesbian mystique. She'll read from it tonight at 7 at People Like Us Books, in their new digs at 1115 W. Belmont. Admission is free. Call 248-6363.