The Loop offers a full afternoon of political and family fun today. At noon you can join the Animal Rights Mobilization for its annual day-after-Thanksgiving Fur Free Friday. Protesters will assemble at the corner of State and Adams to march and no doubt harangue passersby who are wearing fur (381-1181). After that, wander over to the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, for Magic City's Turkey Trek, where kids can see Native American dances, learn about animals' snow tracks, and, among other things, make and play traditional percussion instruments. It's free, from 1 to 3:30 (744-1612). You'll have time for a quick bite before wandering over to the rebuilt Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn, to see the city's new approach to displaying Christmas trees: this year there's one 75-foot balsam fir surrounded by 16 smaller trees. Ten thousand lights, 1,000 ornaments, and 600 bows decorate them. The free official city lighting ceremony, headed by the mayor, begins at 4. Call 744-3315 for details.
Georges Franju's French expressionist horror classic Eyes Without a Face tells the story of a plastic surgeon who causes a car accident that terribly disfigures his daughter's face. To rectify his error the doctor desperately attempts to rebuild her visage--with transplants from women he lures home and kills. The stark and horrific film is a meditation on the superficial nature of beauty; Facets calls it "a dangerous masterpiece that is a highly charged fusion of visceral excess and visual poetry." Starting tonight it plays for a week at Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, at 7 and 9, with additional shows at 3 and 5 on Sunday. Tix are $5, $3 for members. Call 281-9075.
The Newberry Consort--the Newberry Library's ensemble-in-residence, which performs music from the 13th through 17th centuries--is offering free lectures to illuminate the history of the music it plays. The group will discuss its current work, Codex Canonici: Music of Burgundian Masters, "an examination of court society and urban life at the end of the Middle Ages," today at 11 at the library, 60 W. Walton, and tomorrow at 2 at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7541 S. South Shore Drive. Call 255-3610 for details.
Three days of films and videos chronicling the history and contemporary experience of Native Americans mark the fourth annual First Nations Film and Video Festival of Chicago. The fest starts today at 1 and offers dozens of works by or about Native Americans. Tonight's 7 o'clock screening of the feature-length film Dance Me Outside will be preceded by a free reception at Facets at which the film's producer and three of its actors will be present. The fest runs through Thursday at Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, and concludes December 2 at the Film Center of the Art Institute, Columbus and Jackson. Admission is $5 a session, which includes a combination of screenings. Call 784-0808 for a complete schedule or more information.
The Nelson Algren Committee honors its hero tonight. The 6th annual anniversary party, dubbed Scenes From the Wild Side, features excerpts from the Prop Theatre's Never Come Morning and music by David Hernandez and his Street Sounds band. It's $5, $3 for students and seniors, at the Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division. Things get under way at 8. Call 235-3232 for more.
Painter Albert Oehlen began his career as an artist's bad boy, parodying the excesses of neoexpressionism. Now he's calmer, but the folks at the Renaissance Society say he's still a critic of the medium: "The boom and bust mechanism which has driven painting for the last several decades is brought to a halt as the good, the bad and the ugly are all juxtaposed on one canvas in a denial of synthesis and a resistance to style." Albert Oehlen: Recent Paintings opens this evening at the society, 5811 S. Ellis. An informal discussion with the artist begins at 4; the reception will start at 5. Call 702-8670 for more information.
Skate on State opens for the season today at noon. The rink rests on notorious lot 37, the square block at State and Randolph that rapacious developers razed but never built anything on. Making the best of a bad situation, the Daley administration turns it into a skating rink during the winter. It's open daily from 9 to 7:15, with a new oval shape and a new feature called "Skate TV," which allows skaters to see themselves on video screens. Admission is free, but skate rental is $3, $2 for kids. There are free skating lessons for kids on weekend mornings at 9:30. Call 744-3315 for details.
The School of the Art Institute concludes a series of talks and exhibits, "Art as Dramatic Comedy," with the caustic work of Paul McCarthy, who, folks there say, "evokes a consistent tone of dark humor through parody, innuendo, and exaggeration in his video, sculpture, and illustrations. Through the use of horrifying images, he shocks his audience into an unusual awareness of the bitter realities of what are sometimes extremely painful situations." McCarthy will show his work and talk about it tonight at 6 in the auditorium of the School of the Art Institute, Columbus and Jackson. It's $3, but free for students. Call 443-3711 for details.
Goddess excavator Patricia Monaghan has spent more than a decade ferreting out goddess myths and legends from all over the world. The second edition of the fruits of her research, The Book of Goddesses and Heroines, contains info on more than 1,500 of them. The poet and teacher recently moved to Chicago; she'll give a free talk and sign books tonight at 7 at Transitions Bookplace, Sheffield and North. Call 951-7323.
The life of bicycle messengers--in which asphalt, snow, and noxious fumes take on a visceral immediacy--is investigated in a new documentary by Paul Storino and Sam Inglese. Spirit of a Subculture touches on a few of the 200 riders dotting the Loop on a typical day, each of whom travel more than 25 miles on a shift and deliver dozens of packages--for just a few dollars a run. The documentary debuts tonight on Channel Eleven at 10. Call 583-5000 for more.
The Guild Complex celebrates itself tonight with an end-of-year exhibit of work by the literary group's many volunteers. 'Plex Party II promises poetry, fiction, performance, dance, music, monologues, videos, and visual art (no open mike). The $5 event starts at 7 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division. Call 278-2210 for more.
Sexual prowess is one of those things that's declasse to brag about but nice to be recognized for. You can get feedback from an objective source at tonight's Stud Search. Porn director Daisy Mae is in town with representatives from a gay porn company called Bijou Studios, and they're looking for male film fodder. If you think you qualify, get to Berlin, 954 W. Belmont, by midnight. There's no cover charge. Call 348-4975.
There's still time to catch the last two classes of a course on legal issues that can hit you where you live--literally. The People's Law School continues tonight with a class on consumer fraud in home repairs and car sales; next Thursday the subject is employee rights and job discrimination. The free classes are from 6 to 8 at Harold Washington College, 30 E. Lake. Call 630-9363 for more information.
If the man who claims to have unleashed the most frequently run infomercial in America is your idea of a celebrity, hurry down to Barnes and Noble tonight to see Kevin Trudeau. The infomercial touts his book, Kevin Trudeau's Mega Memory: How to Release Your Superpower Memory in 30 Minutes or Less a Day, which purports to teach you how to stimulate your brain's neurotransmitters, "releasing [y]our inborn photographic memory." Trudeau is also the founder of the Chicago-based American Memory Institute. He appears at 8 at the bookstore, 659 W. Diversey. It's free. Call 871-9004.
In the mind of an actor, great parts have an allure all their own: Hamlet . . . Stanley Kowalski . . . Blitzen. Blitzen? He's a key part of The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, Dolphinback Theatre Company's holiday play-cum-expose of dirty doings at the North Pole, which opens tonight at 8 and runs through January 7 at the Organic Greenhouse, 3319 N. Clark. (The company cutely notes that there's no show December 24; the reindeer are busy.) Tix are $12.50 and can be purchased by calling 327-5588.